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Coach stands down after Hawthorn player claims

Brisbane and former Hawthorn assistant coach Chris Fagan has taken leave after the AFL ordered an inquiry into allegations from a former Hawks player, including that coach Alastair Clarkson asked him to terminate his partner’s pregnancy.

Former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and senior assistant coach Chris Fagan. Photo: AAP/Julian Smith

Former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson and senior assistant coach Chris Fagan. Photo: AAP/Julian Smith

Clarkson – newly appointed as North Melbourne coach – and his then senior assistant Fagan will be afforded “natural justice” by an independent panel examining the racism claims, the AFL says.

Fagan has taken leave from the Lions after he and Clarkson were named in an ABC report detailing historic racism allegations from some Hawthorn players.

“Chris supports and welcomes the investigation,” Brisbane said in a statement.

“He was not consulted during the Hawthorn sponsored review and looks forward to the opportunity to be heard as part of the AFL investigation.

“The Brisbane Lions and Chris have mutually agreed that he will take a leave of absence from the club so he can fully cooperate in the investigation.”

One former Hawthorn player alleged he was told by Clarkson to terminate his partner’s pregnancy, the ABC reported.

The player said a group of coaches including Clarkson and his then senior assistant coach Fagan also urged him to break up with his partner and move into the home of an assistant coach, the ABC said.

Clarkson was the Hawks’ coach between 2005 and 2021 and Fagan was a senior assistant coach and general manager of football at the club from 2008-16 before being appointed the Lions’ coach in 2017.

Clarkson was last month appointed as North Melbourne’s new coach on a five-year contract starting this November.

Hawthorn earlier this year commissioned an external review into claims of racism, which has been delivered to the AFL.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the claims were harrowing and would be directed to a newly formed independent panel headed by a King’s Counsel.

“These are serious allegations,” McLachlan told reporters on Wednesday.

“And it’s important that we treat them appropriately whilst also ensuring the formal process provides support to those impacted and also natural justice to those people who are accused.

“This is a process that it’s appropriate that it is held independent of the normal AFL integrity department response.

“We need to run a proper investigation to get to the bottom of it … out of respect to those making the allegations and out of respect to those being accused.”

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McLachlan said the four-person panel would be appointed within 24 hours.

Hawthorn said the review “raised disturbing historical allegations”.

“While the process indicated the current environment at the club is culturally safe, it also recommended that some of the club’s current First Nations training and development programs should continue to be strengthened”, the club said in a statement.

AFL Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said he was “extremely concerned” at the ABC report, published on Wednesday.

One couple was pressured to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of the player’s career, the ABC reported.

“Clarkson just leaned over me and demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner,” the unnamed player told the ABC.

“I was then manipulated and convinced to remove my SIM card from my phone so there was no further contact between my family and me.”

The player’s partner did not go through with a termination and told the ABC that only at the five-month mark of the pregnancy was the player allowed by the club to return to his family.

Former Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge, who played at the club from 2002-17, said the claims were “shocking, terrible”.

Asked on SEN radio if he was aware of what was detailed in the report, Hodge replied: “Not to the extent of the terrible stuff in there.”

– with AAP

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