Eddie Betts' 'heartbreaking' TV admission leaves AFL world gutted

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Eddie Betts, pictured here detailing his own experiences of racism.
Eddie Betts has detailed his own experiences of racism. Image: Getty/Fox Footy

AFL champion Eddie Betts has called on all clubs to review their historical treatment of First Nations people amid serious allegations levelled against Hawthorn.

Indigenous champion Betts said he was saddened but not surprised to hear of the allegations at Hawthorn, detailed in an independent report commissioned by the club and published by the ABC on Wednesday.

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They include one player alleging that a group of Hawthorn coaches told him and his partner to terminate a pregnancy and separate so the player could focus on football.

"This could happen at any football club," Betts told Fox Footy on Wednesday night.

"And I think that every football club should do a review like this.

"Every football club should come out and do an external review, contact the Indigenous players and past Indigenous players and see how that footy club was."

Betts, who has publicly detailed his own experiences of racism in the AFL system and in life, heaped praise on the unnamed players' bravery in speaking up as part of the Hawthorn review.

"It was a tough read, reading that today, but I wasn't surprised, to be honest," he admitted.

"Aboriginal people, we're not surprised as well, (because) we face these issues in many systems - in the education system, in the justice system, in the health system.

"It always comes back to what I've been preaching a lot, and that's education."

Betts detailed in heartbreaking fashion how he'd experienced instances of racism in society just recently, saying he feels like he doesn't belong.

“I find myself being followed by security guards in a shop,” he said.

“This year, I was in a pool. And the lifeguard came up to me and told me that I needed to get out of the pool. I was holding my kid, my baby in my hand.

“I found out that two old white elderly people told the lifeguard to tell me to get out of the pool because I was making their grandchild uncomfortable.

“And that just made me feel like I don’t belong here in Australia, because these issues keep occurring.

“I honestly don’t feel like I belong here, but my wife keeps driving it into me and keeps telling me that out of anyone, you should feel like you belong here, out of everybody because this is your country, and you should never feel like that.”

AFL to outsource investigation into allegations

The allegations against Hawthorn have cast doubt over the coaching futures of Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan - the senior and assistant coaches at the club during the time in question.

Fagan, who is now head coach at the Brisbane Lions, has taken a leave of absence while an investigation takes place, while Clarkson won't commence his new role at North Melbourne until after the investigation is completed.

The AFL is set to outsource an investigation into the claims, saying both coaches would be afforded "natural justice" by an independent panel.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, pictured here speaking to the media during a press conference at the MCG.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media during a press conference at the MCG. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Clarkson issued a statement on Wednesday refuting any wrongdoing.

“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.”

with AAP

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