Hawks assistant ‘backs up’ some allegations as AFL boss concedes ‘livelihoods’ at stake

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Max Laughton from Fox Sports@maxlaughton

A Hawthorn assistant coach has corroborated some elements of the alleged discrimination of past First Nations players, according to reports.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan and ex-Hawks boss Alastair Clarkson have denied any wrongdoing after the disturbing series of claims in a Hawthorn truth-telling report, with more aired in an ABC article on Wednesday.

The AFL is in the midst of finalising an independent panel to investigate the allegations with league CEO Gill McLachlan conceding on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 the process could take months, and that “livelihoods" are at stake.

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The Herald Sun first reported a former Hawks assistant has backed up some allegations from the Indigenous ex-players and families, with his information and a signed statement part of the report handed to the AFL.

Foxfooty.com.au is not suggesting the coach’s information proves the allegations.

Well-known lawyer Leon Zwier of the firm Arnold Bloch Leibler is set to represent the four families central to the allegations. Zwier worked for Collingwood during the Do Better report process.

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The allegations centre around the isolation and separation of Indigenous players from their partners and families, with then-Hawthorn officials including coach Alastair Clarkson, head of coaching and GM of football Chris Fagan, and development manager Jason Burt.

All three, along with ex-Hawthorn president and current AFL Commission member Andrew Newbold, have either stepped down from their current roles or, in Clarkson’s case, delayed the start of his North Melbourne tenure which was scheduled to begin on November 1.

None of them were asked to answer the allegations during the Hawthorn report, which was not intended to investigate the claims, just to allow past and present Indigenous players to speak their truths about their time at the club.

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“It was very strict. We had a very narrow laneway to stay in and we had no access to non-Indigenous past players, coaches or staff,” Phil Egan, the former Richmond player who led the report, told Seven.

AFL CEO Gill McLachlan told Fox Footy on Thursday night he agreed with the decision of Fagan and Clarkson to step away from their roles during the investigation.

“I met with KCs and senior people today as part of the interview process for the panel, and asking how long they think it would take, and it’s months. A couple of months,” McLachlan said on AFL 360.

“You’ve got to run this to ground, people have to be available to talk, all of those things. There’s certainly an issue about whether it would be appropriate for me to leave with this all afoot.

“The allegations are that serious and it’s livelihoods that are at stake, and there are people who’ve suffered great trauma who need to be worked through this.”