The Daily Telegraph

Indigenous players ‘told to leave partners’ by sports club

- By Jessica Abrahams

INDIGENOUS players at a leading Australian rules football club were allegedly separated from their families and forced to end relationsh­ips because of their race, a review has found.

One Hawthorn Hawks player said he was left “broken” when he told the club his partner was pregnant and was then pressured to terminate the pregnancy.

The allegation­s came to light in a review commission­ed by the Melbourne-based club.

“Clarkson just leant over me and demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner,” the player said, referring to Alastair Clarkson, the club’s former head coach.

He said he was persuaded to remove the SIM card from his phone so his partner could not reach him. She kept the baby but terminated a later pregnancy through fear of a repeat experience.

Another player said he was escorted to his home by Clarkson and two other members of club staff who told his pregnant girlfriend their relationsh­ip was over. She later had a miscarriag­e.

Two other players told broadcaste­r ABC that they had suffered serious mental health issues and had attempted suicide as a result of their experience­s at Hawthorn.

The Australian Football League said it was investigat­ing the allegation­s, describing them as “extremely serious”.

Clarkson, who left the club last year, said yesterday that he “refuted any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct”.

Once slow to recruit Indigenous talent, Hawthorn has developed a number of champion players from the communitie­s in the past two decades.

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