Chris Fagan on leave of absence amid allegations against Hawthorn

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Chris Fagan is pictured during a Brisbane Lions AFL match.
Chris Fagan has temporarily stood down as coach of the Brisbane Lions, after he was implicated in serious allegations of racism during his time at Hawthorn. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has agreed to temporarily stand down pending an AFL investigation into troubling allegations of racism against his former club Hawthorn.

It was revealed on Wednesday morning that a number of deeply alarming allegations from a number of Indigenous players had been made against the Hawks during Fagan's time as assistant coach under Alastair Clarkson.

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The allegations emerged courtesy of an external review Hawthorn commissioned earlier this year, which was sparked by claims of racist treatment of Indigenous players and their families by club officials.

One former Hawthorn player alleged that a group of coaches urged him to terminate his partner's pregnancy, break up with her 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' head coach in 2017.

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

Fagan has since taken leave from the Lions after he and Clarkson were named in the ABC report.

"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."

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."

Alastair Clarkson is pictured speaking to Hawthorn players.
Alastair Clarkson is at the centre of troubling allegations of racism towards Indigenous players dating back to his years as coach of Hawthorn. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Alastair Clarkson releases statement

Clarkson responded to the allegations in a statement released shortly after he agreed not to officially take over as coach of North Melbourne until the AFL investigation was complete.

“The health, care and welfare of our players, staff and their families were always my highest priorities during my time at Hawthorn Football Club,” he said.

“I was therefore shocked by the extremely serious allegations reported in the media earlier today. I was not interviewed by the authors of the report commissioned by the club, and nor have I been provided with a copy of the report.

“I was not afforded any due process and I refute any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct and look forward to the opportunity to be heard as part of the AFL external investigation.

“I have today contacted the President of North Melbourne Football Club and we have mutually agreed that I will step back from my responsibilities at the Club so I can fully cooperate in the investigation.

“As the matters are now subject to an investigation, I will not make any further comment at this stage."

The AFL said Clarkson and Flanagan would both be afforded "natural justice" by an independent panel created to examine the explosive claims.

with AAP

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