Hawthorn Hawks racism report, other clubs conducting external reviews, Sydney Swans, Michael O’Loughlin, Fremantle Dockers, all 18 clubs’ response, Eddie Betts call, latest

Two AFL clubs — Sydney and Fremantle — have made moves to confront their past after Eddie Betts’ call for all teams to review the history of the treatment of their First Nations players following the shock Hawthorn report.

The Swans have formed a subcommittee that will “consider how we will deal, as a club with relevant issues,” saying they take the “recently identified First Nations matter very seriously.” The subcommittee is chaired by Indigenous champion Michael O’Loughlin and also includes president Andrew Pridham, CEO Tom Harley and board member Belinda Rowe.

Meanwhile the Dockers confirmed they were willing to investigate their history.

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“Since inception, the Fremantle Football Club has had a continuous history of strong Indigenous representation across both our men’s and women’s teams, as well as our board and administration, including our current club patron,” Fremantle president Dale Alcock said.

“We are always looking at ways to improve on this legacy and are open to reviewing our past in a more formal capacity to ensure accurate truth telling of our history.”

It comes in the wake of a disturbing report by ABC surrounding the treatment of Indigenous players and their families at Hawthorn during its golden era under Alastair Clarkson, with the four-time premiership coach and then club footy boss Chris Fagan at the center of the damning allegations.

The accusations came to light after an external review commissioned by the Hawks following claims made by club legend Cyril Rioli earlier this year on how he was treated that ultimately led to his sudden retirement in 2018.

News Corp contacted the other 16 clubs to ask if they would be exploring reviews into the historical treatment of First Nations players, with the majority declining to comment or unwilling to commit to an investigation as yet.

Collingwood in 2020 commissioned the Do Better report, an independent investigation into the shocking allegations of former players that found the club guilty of systemic racism.

Indigenous great Betts this week said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 that every club should conduct an external review like Hawthorn’s, urging them to “contact the Indigenous players, past and present, and see how the footy club was”.

“This could happen at any football club,” Betts said AFL 360 on Wednesday night.

“And I think that every football club should do a review like this.”

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan on Thursday acknowledged Betts’ proposal was a “good suggestion,” but said the league’s priority was taking the necessary steps to thoroughly investigate the shock claims about Hawthorn.

McLachlan confirmed the league was in the midst of finalizing its independent panel to probe the accusations, conceding the process could take months, and that “livelihoods” are at stake.


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