Hawthorn racism claim reaches another stalemate

Oliver Caffrey |

Claims of racism under Alastair Clarkson (L) and Chris Fagan (R) at Hawthorn may be headed to court.
Claims of racism under Alastair Clarkson (L) and Chris Fagan (R) at Hawthorn may be headed to court.

Hawthorn remain committed to resolving the long-running racism saga after the Human Rights Commission terminated a claim by former Hawks First Nations players and their partners.

The commission has thrown out the case, believing there was little chance the Hawks, former staff – including Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan – and the ex-players could come to an agreement.

The players, headlined by four-time Hawthorn premiership star Cyril Rioli, and their partners, now have 60 days to take the matter to the Federal Court.

“As we have always said, we would like to see this matter resolved fairly and quickly for everyone involved,” Hawthorn president Andy Gowers said in a statement on Monday.

“We have engaged with the (Human Rights Commission] process in good faith and have made multiple attempts to resolve the matter with all parties.

“It is unfortunate that this was not possible via this process.

“However, we remain committed to, and will work towards, having the matter resolved.”

Cyril Rioli at training with Alastair Clarkson.
The former Hawk First Nation players, including Cyril Rioli (L), could take their claims to court. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

Former Hawthorn coach Clarkson and ex-Hawks football boss Fagan met with the complainants in person in March just before the Easter weekend.

It was the first time Clarkson, now North Melbourne coach, and current Brisbane Lions mentor Fagan had met with the players and their partners since allegations regarding their time at the Hawks aired in an ABC report in September, 2022.

Clarkson, Fagan and former Hawks welfare boss Jason Burt have denied any wrongdoing.

The AFL last year said there would be no adverse findings against Clarkson, Fagan or Jason Burt from an independent panel investigating claims of racism during their time at Hawthorn between 2008 and 2016.

Former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett weighed in on the latest developments, calling it the “correct outcome”.

“With so many claims now being lodged against the AFL and clubs, the verasity (sic) of all claims should be subjected to being tested in a court of law. Not by the AFL or clubs,” Kennett posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Compensation through mediation is no proper test of any claim unless charges admitted.”