Vindicated Fagan slams Hawks racism saga as a ‘farce’

AFL coach Chris Fagan has blasted the Hawthorn racism investigation process as a farce, saying he is vindicated and would welcome the chance to test the bombshell claims in a public court.

May 31, 2023, updated May 31, 2023
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 Brisbane coach issued a strongly worded statement within minutes of AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announcing the independent inquiry into the allegations would end, following an agreement with six of the complainants.

But that only closes one chapter in the matter, with legal action now appearing certain and Hawthorn themselves set to come under AFL investigation for how they handled the initial claims.

After eight months of the inquiry making minimal progress, events moved quickly on Tuesday and the AFL called a snap media conference that evening to announce the end of the investigation.

Fagan, Alastair Clarkson and Jason Burt were cleared of breaching AFL rules during their time at Hawthorn.

Fagan said the leaking of the initial allegations to the media, the AFL investigation and further media leaks were a “travesty of justice”.

While Fagan, Clarkson and Burt were not party to the agreement reached by six of the complainants, the AFL and the inquiry panel, the Lions coach said those matters were “fully justified”.

“I have always categorically denied all the allegations against me. The allegations are false. I am completely innocent,” he said.

“I am happy for any of my conduct and any documents to be aired publicly in a public court or proper public process and let someone impartial decide what is true and what is false,” he said.

“I have made no concessions. There are none to make … I have done nothing wrong.”

Fagan added he bore no grudges against the complainants.

“I am conscious this farce of a process cannot have been easy on those First Nations people who were complainants,” he said.

“Those whom I knew, I hold no grudges against and hold only a wish that whatever pain they are suffering can be healed over time.”

The question now is whether the AFL will take action against Hawthorn over their conduct.

McLachlan said the way Hawthorn handled the process where initial allegations were made put many parties involved in a “hugely vulnerable situation”.

The most serious of the accusations is that an Indigenous player was told to encourage his partner to have an abortion.

The Hawks saga started last year after former Indigenous star Cyril Rioli and his wife Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli publicly claimed they were treated poorly during their time at the club.

That prompted a Hawthorn review of current and former Indigenous players, which led to the bombshell racism claims being leaked to the media last September.

Hawthorn released a statement on Tuesday night, saying they welcomed the decision to end the inquiry.

Hawks president Andy Gowers will hold a media conference on Wednesday.

His predecessor Jeff Kennett, who left the role last year, was quoted in the media as saying he was “profoundly disappointed” by McLachlan’s comments about the AFL potentially taking action against the Hawks.

Clarkson is on leave from his new role as North Melbourne coach due to the stress of the racism saga, while Burt works at a Melbourne school.

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