‘Clear conscience’: Lions coach Fagan addresses AFL racism claims

Chris Fagan has felt no need to address accusations of racism during his time at Hawthorn with his Brisbane players since returning from voluntary leave, stressing he has a “clear conscience” and has the squad’s trust.

Dec 05, 2022, updated Dec 05, 2022
Brisbane Lions head coach Chris Fagan at the last season's AFL Preliminary Final. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Brisbane Lions head coach Chris Fagan at the last season's AFL Preliminary Final. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

The Lions AFL coach has denied any wrongdoing with regard to the disturbing allegations at the Hawks, where he was an assistant to Alastair Clarkson and served as football boss.

Both coaches will co-operate with an independent investigation into claims including that a request was made to separate young Indigenous players from their partners, and that pressure was applied for a pregnancy to be terminated for the sake of a player’s career.

The full Lions squad returned to training on Monday, with Fagan publicly addressing the allegations for the first time since they were reported in September.

“Probably the first couple of weeks (I struggled), not really knowing whether it was OK to walk down the street or not,” he told a press conference.

“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 said he had not contemplated resigning during his voluntary stand down period and that he signed a confidentiality agreement last Friday ahead of the investigation, which is yet to begin.

Monday’s session was the first time the entire squad had gathered since the allegations surfaced just days after Brisbane’s preliminary final loss to Geelong in September.

But Fagan saw no need to address the squad collectively, though he said he had spoken to some players individually.

“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.”

When that will be is unclear, however.

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

“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.”

Vice-captain Harris Andrews said the Lions believed in their coach’s innocence, given Fagan’s track record since arriving in Brisbane in 2017.

“We can only go off what we’ve experienced with Fages and he’s been nothing but a great figure,” he said.

“To create an environment where so many players want to come and join the club is exciting for us.

“He’s been such a great leader at that footy club and someone that we all really love to be around.”

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