Hawthorn Football Club and the AFL have responded to 'disturbing' allegations levelled against the club during the tenure of former coach Alastair Clarkson.
According to the ABC, a former Hawthorn player has alleged he was told by a group of coaches to terminate his partner's pregnancy.
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Three Indigenous families involved at Hawthorn during Clarkson's time as coach between 2005 and 2021 have told the ABC they were allegedly bullied and told to choose between their football careers and their families.
Earlier this year, Hawthorn commissioned an external review into claims of racism at the club during Clarkson's tenure as coach.
The external review document was given to Hawthorn hierarchy and the AFL's integrity unit a fortnight ago.
Addressing the allegations on Wednesday, the AFL said the document contains "very serious allegations".
"The experiences outlined in the document are extremely serious and require further and full examination," the AFL said in a statement.
"The AFL is finalising a process to investigate the allegations and has sought further details of those who shared their experiences in order to progress its investigation."
Hawthorn said the review "raised disturbing historical allegations that require further investigation".
"Upon learning of these allegations, the club immediately engaged AFL integrity as is appropriate," a club statement said.
"The club will continue to provide support to those who have participated in this process and their wellbeing remains our priority.
"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.
"Given the matters raised are confidential, the club will not provide any further comment at this time."
Disturbing allegations levelled against Hawthorn
According to the ABC, the document includes allegations of key Hawthorn figures demanding the separation of young Indigenous players from their partners.
The report claims one couple was pressured to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of the player's career.
The player told the ABC a group of coaches including Clarkson and Chris Fagan - his senior assistant coach at the time and now Brisbane head coach - urged to have his partner's pregnancy terminated, break up with his partner, and move into the home of an assistant coach.
Last month Clarkson was appointed as North Melbourne's new coach on a five-year contract to begin in November.
On Wednesday evening he released a statement refuting "any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct."
The AFL later said Clarkson and Fagan would both be afforded "natural justice" by an independent panel to be created within 24 hours to examine the claims.
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