Chris Fagan has joined Alastair Clarkson in denying any wrongdoing in the AFL racism scandal, saying he is “deeply saddened” by the allegations threatening his coaching career.
Both coaches say they will cooperate with an independent investigation into claims of racism from their time in Hawthorn, described as “depressing” by the federal government.
The AFL will appoint a team of four-person investigators, led by a King’s Counsel.
Meanwhile, Fagan has taken leave of his coaching post in Brisbane, while Clarkson will delay the start of his new appointment in North Melbourne.
Fagan (pictured right with former Hawthorn manager Alastair Clarkson in 2016) has categorically denied the allegations, including that he was involved in telling a Hawthorn indigenous player to persuade his partner to terminate her pregnancy.
Former Hawthorn Player Welfare Manager Jason Burt has taken indefinite leave from his position as head of training and performance sports at Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammar private school.
Additionally, former Hawks chairman Andrew Newbold has taken a leave from the AFL Commission.
“I was shocked and deeply distressed by the allegations reported in the media yesterday regarding my time at Hawthorn Football Club,” Fagan said in a statement to AFL.com.au on Thursday.
‘I categorically deny the allegations that I made a mistake on my part in relation to First Nations players at Hawthorn Football Club.
“I have had very positive relationships with First Nations players during my many years in football, and indeed with players from different racial and ethnic groups.”
“Upset and deeply distressed”: Fagan’s future in football is threatened by startling allegations and says he can’t wait to get his side of events under AFL investigation
Allegations of racism were reported by ABC on Wednesday, following an investigation commissioned by Hawthorn earlier in the year.
Fagan said he was not interviewed as part of Hawthorn’s review.
ABC said Fagan, Clarkson and Burt did not answer the questions they were asked.
“I intend to defend myself,” Fagan said.
“I hope people judge me based on how I actually behave and not based on what is written in the media.
“I support and welcome the investigation announced yesterday by the AFL.
“I intend to participate fully in the investigation and look forward to being heard and receiving a fair trial and fairness.”
Jason Burt was Hawthorn’s player development manager under Alastair Clarkson. He has now resigned indefinitely from his job at one of Melbourne’s top private schools after being named in the startling allegations revealed in an ABC report on Wednesday.
Among the many allegations made by unnamed former Hawthorn players, Fagan and Clarkson were accused of telling a player and his partner to terminate the pregnancy and separate so the player could focus on football.
The partner of a player named in the ABC report claims that Burt told her that he should have terminated his relationship with the footballer for the sake of his career and that it would be better for his footballer if he “did not become a father”.
Clarkson denied any allegations in a statement Wednesday.
“The health, care and well-being of our players, staff and their families have always been my top priorities during my time at Hawthorn,” said Clarkson.
“I was therefore shocked by the extremely serious allegations reported in the media earlier today.”
Four-time Premiership manager Clarkson was at Hawthorn between 2005 and 2021.
Fagan (pictured with Alastair Clarkson in 2018)
Fagan was Clarkson’s senior assistant coach and general manager of football at the Hawks from 2008 to 2016, before being named Brisbane manager in 2017.
The fury prompted Eddie Betts to urge all AFL clubs to conduct reviews of their historical treatment of indigenous players, similar to that undertaken by Hawthorn.
AFL executive member Travis Auld said the league will continue to consult Betts on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.
But it hasn’t gotten to the point of acting on the former Carlton and Adelaide star’s suggestion that it has reviews spread across the competition.
“Right now the goal is to put together a panel and start this particular investigation because there are people who have been affected, clearly, and we want to get to the facts as quickly as possible,” Auld told reporters Thursday.
The AFL said all parties will be granted “natural justice” through its investigations.
“What’s important is to understand the facts and talk to people who have clearly been affected by this,” Auld said.