Claims by former Indigenous players at Hawthorn that former AFL club executives separated them from their families and in one case demanded an abortion by their partner are deeply troubling.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan rightly said that “on the face of it, more serious allegations are hard to find.” He called them “harrowing,” but stressed it was important that the former Hawthorn officers named in the allegations receive natural justice, first reported by ABC.
Those named were new North Melbourne manager Alastair Clarkson and Brisbane manager Chris Fagan, both of whom will step down from their positions pending the league’s conclusion of its investigation. Clarkson said in a statement that he was “not afforded due process and I deny any allegation of wrongdoing or wrongdoing.” Fagan will also cooperate in the investigation of the AFL. Another former employee named in the Hawthorn report has not yet commented.
These are claims at this time, not proven findings. The senior officials who allegedly pressured the Indigenous players were not asked by the authors of Hawthorn’s report to respond, as the brief was to speak to former Indigenous players about their experiences at the club.
McLachlan promptly announced that an external and independent four-person panel led by a King’s Counsel would conduct an investigation into the allegations. The panel, including the diversity of its membership, should be completed within 24 hours.
This is the correct answer and comes after numerous reports of alleged racism in the league from Indigenous players who have acknowledged that they have been too slow to act in the past. Racism, invoked by the likes of Adam Goodes, Heritier Lumumba and Eddie Betts over the past eight years, no doubt influenced McLachlan’s quick response yesterday.
This is a big challenge for McLachlan and the AFL. McLachlan’s tenure as CEO is coming to an end and he would prefer to celebrate his closing of a historic $4.5 billion broadcasting rights deal and enjoy the excitement of Saturday’s grand finale.
But this is a challenge that is deeper and more important to the future of the league. Regardless of the outcome of the AFL’s investigation, there is no doubt that the league had an issue with racism and the treatment of Indigenous players who contributed so much to the game. There have been many scandals, but few of the previous incidents of racism have been as potentially damaging as those claimed in the ABC report.
https://www.smh.com.au/national/distressing-hawthorn-racism-allegations-a-reminder-of-the-work-to-be-done-20220921-p5bjyp.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Disturbing Hawthorn accusations of racism are a reminder of the work to be done