Monday , January 30 2023

Frustrated Fagan speaks out over racism probe

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WARNING: This story contains intergenerational trauma for indigenous people and pregnancy loss

Chris Fagan has fronted media for the first time since being embroiled in a racism scandal that has engulfed his former club, Hawthorn.

The AFL has launched an investigation into disturbing claims that were first aired in an ABC report in September, following the Hawks ordering an inquiry which was later handed to the governing body.

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It is alleged senior Hawthorn staffers forced a number of indigenous players to separate from their families and partners, and in one instance pressured a young First Nations couple to abort a pregnancy for the sake of the player’s AFL career.

Fagan – who was the Hawks’ head of football at the time of the alleged incidents – was one of three men named in the report, alongside former coach Alastair Clarkson and former list manager Jason Burt.

In the wake of the reports both Clarkson and Fagan stood down from their duties as coach of North Melbourne and of Brisbane respectively.

But on Monday Fagan took charge of the Lions’ first 2023 pre-season training run, and afterwards spoke to the congregated media.

In September he had issued a written statement “categorically denying” any wrongdoing at Hawthorn, but Monday was the first time he had fielded questions on the matter.

“We all thought it was going to be over by Christmas time but it’ll go longer than that,” Fagan said of the AFL’s investigation.

Fagan hits back at Hawks allegations

“I’m just patiently waiting for my opportunity to speak at the investigation.

“You’d like it to happen sooner rather than later. But I’ve got to be patient.

“We’ll just wait and see what the investigation reveals.

“Probably the first couple of weeks (I struggled), not really knowing whether it was OK to walk down the street or not. But after a while I realised we can’t live like that. So I’ve just been living normally since that point.

“I’ve got a very clear conscience. They say a clear conscience is the best sedative and I’m sleeping well.”

Fagan was pressed on the investigation by one journalist in particular, but the coach became testy and said he would walk out on the press conference if the questioning continued.

He said he legally couldn’t comment on the details of the allegations given he signed a confidentiality agreement last week.

“I can’t say anything at all mate,” Fagan said.

“Can I say to you… that I’m not going to continue to talk about this. If you want me to stay here and keep talking to you, I suggest you stop asking me questions about that.”

The AFL has not stood down either Fagan or Clarkson – Burt no longer works in the industry – and so both coaches are free to resume duties in clubland while the investigation takes place.

Fagan says his Lions players have no issue with him continuing in the role as it stands.

“I’ve worked with them for six years and they trust me, they trust me. So there’s been no need for a conversation,” he said.

“I know everyone’s really interested in my thoughts on it, and I respect that, but you also have to respect the fact that it’s going to remain private until the investigation is over.”

Clarkson has issued two statements on the matter, the latest on September 28 where he lashed the “corrupted” investigation process.

He has also denied any wrongdoing.

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