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Hawthorn Football Club rocked by racism, bullying claims

By Amanda Caroline  •  September 21, 2022  •  17
An outside view of Hawthorn club headquartersIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,
The Hawthorn Football Club have won 13 AFL premierships

The Australian Football League is investigating claims Aboriginal players at one of its most successful clubs were bullied by senior coaching staff.

Players were isolated from family, told to break up with their partners, and in one case, ordered to end a pregnancy, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report.

Hawthorn Football Club has promised to investigate the "disturbing" claims.

They were uncovered by a review of the team's treatment of Indigenous people.

The ABC, which appears to be familiar with the contents of the report, interviewed three unnamed players who were at the Melbourne club - also known as the Hawks - between 2005 and 2021.

They told the broadcaster they were forced to choose between their careers and their families.

One said coaching staff had "demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner".

"I was then manipulated and convinced to remove my SIM card from my phone so there was no further contact between my family and me. They told me I'd be living with one of the other coaches from that night onward," he said.



Another player told the ABC the club reacted similarly when they learned his partner was pregnant.

He was forced to break up with her and cut off contact. She later miscarried.

A third player - who was from another state - told the investigation the club had actively tried to stop his young family from relocating to Melbourne to be with him.

All three families detailed mental health struggles since the incidents.

The report detailing the allegations was reportedly received by Hawthorn two weeks ago. according to ABC.

It was immediately passed on to the AFL's integrity unit, which investigates claims of misconduct, a Hawthorn spokesperson said in a statement.

They said the review had indicated the current environment at the club is "culturally safe", but had raised "disturbing historical allegations that require further investigation".

"The club will continue to provide support to those who have participated in this process, and their wellbeing remains our priority," they added.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the AFL said it takes "extremely seriously all matters where people report experiencing harm, discrimination or mistreatment in our industry".