Former Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge says the allegations of racism against the AFL club have made for 'very uncomfortable' reading.
The Hawks were two weeks ago handed the results of an external review into claims of racism within the club during former coach Alastair Clarkson's tenure from 2005 to 2021, which contains what the AFL has described as 'very serious allegations'.
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A report from the ABC's Russell Jackson outlined allegations from three Indigenous players and their families about their experiences with the club after they were drafted, including that a player had been advised to terminate his partner's pregnancy.
A statement from the club said the report had "raised disturbing historical allegations" and that the report had been passed on to the AFL integrity unit for further investigation.
Hodge was asked about the allegations levelled at the club in an interview with SEN on Wednesday morning.
The 38-year-old former skipper said he was still processing what he had read during the interview, but agreed it was damning for the club and tainted the success they had during that time.
“It was a tough read, there’s no doubt. I think anyone who goes through that, it’s uncomfortable to go through and read," he said.
"Your first thought goes to the players who went through it and the partners and the families that went through it because it doesn’t matter what your job is, it’s always family first and that’s the first people you look after.
"I’m still a bit unsure of my thought process. It’s a shock to the system reading some of the things that were alleged in that.
“It’s shocking. Terrible. But you sit back and does it dampen … what we went through as a group, we had a lot of successful years, but at this stage that’s irrelevant because of what young blokes were told or what they were put through.
“When you get drafted by a football club, it’s supposed to be an exciting time of your life. It’s supposed to be ‘my life has changed, now I have a pathway for the next 10 to 15 years hopefully’, that’s not what happened with these young kids.”
Alastair Clarkson responds to allegations
Clarkson responded to the allegations via a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying he was 'shocked' at what the investigation had alleged.
“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 both coaches would be afforded "natural justice" by an independent panel to be created within 24 hours to examine the explosive claims.
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