Cyril Rioli has his word on the Hawthorn investigation

Former Hawthorn superstar Cyril Rioli and his wife Shannyn have joined the contingent of First Nations players and partners filed in the AFL investigation into alleged racism in Hawthorn.

Sources familiar with the AFL’s investigation into allegations of abuse of First Nations players confirmed that Rioli and his wife, Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli, attended the investigation, which saw a number of former players and their partners submitting written submissions to the have done AFL. appointed body to investigate allegations of abuse of First Nations players between 2008 and 2016.

Cyril Rioli and his wife Shannyn Ah Sam Rioli.

Cyril Rioli and his wife Shannyn Ah Sam Rioli.

Sources also revealed that nearly 18 submissions to the inquiry were made, all in writing, by former players, after Hawthorn wrote to approximately 120 former players asking them to comment for the inquiry investigating allegations against four-time Premiership coach Alastair Clarkson and his former lieutenants Chris Fagan and Jason Burt.

Sources said a number of the confidential submissions from former players were in defense of those officials who are defending themselves against allegations by former players, including encouraging a First Nations player to allow her pregnant partner to terminate her pregnancy. Clarkson, Fagan and Burt have firmly denied the allegations and are providing their versions of events in the investigation, which is being chaired by a four-person panel chaired by KC Bernie Quinn.

It was the grievances voiced by Rioli and his wife – including Shannyn’s dissatisfaction with comments by former President Jeff Kennett – that led Hawthorn to commission a cultural safety review of the club’s dealings with First Nations players. That review, conducted by Indigenous adviser Phil Egan, brought with it allegations from players and their partners that have prompted the AFL to conduct an investigation.


Rioli has stayed away from the Hawks after being outraged by a racist comment made by an older teammate on a season-ending trip in 2013. “Cyril found out about this and was very upset,” Shannyn said Age Caroline Wilson in April.

Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli was also angered by comments from Kennett in Launceston about the style of her ripped jeans – comments she said made her feel “belittled and humiliated”, while Cyril Rioli described Kennett’s comments as “the last straw ‘ described the club’s treatment of indigenous players and their culture over a number of years.

Rioli retired in 2017 at just 28 years old, leaving a significant contract and the prospect of millions of dollars to return to Darwin. Like other ex-First Nations players, he would have the option to seek financial compensation. Cyril Rioli has his word on the Hawthorn investigation

Ryan Sederquist

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