Alastair Clarkson has issued a second statement denying the shocking racism allegations from his time at Hawthorn, after further extracts of the report were made public overnight.
Clarkson, who was announced as the new New Melbourne coach last month but is yet to officially start the role, said he held “grave concerns” for his chance of a fair process in the subsequent AFL investigation into the matter.
On Tuesday night, it emerged an unnamed ex-Hawks coach accused Clarkson and his colleagues Chris Fagan, Mark Evans and Jason Burt as operating the club’s football department “like the Russian Mafia”.
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It was alleged Clarkson, Fagan and Burt used “bullying and intimidation’’ against First Nations players and their partners between 2010 and 2016, with some incidents so serious to “amount to human rights abuses’’.
Foxfooty.com.au does not suggest the allegations in the report are completely true and accurate, only that they have been made and are being investigated by other bodies.
Among the damning claims are allegations Clarkson told a First Nations player to urge his pregnant partner to get an abortion and being part of the staff who got another player to abandon his then-pregnant partner by removing him from the home they shared and changing the player’s phone number.
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“Since learning of the allegations first reported in the media last Wednesday I have been shocked and deeply distressed,” Clarkson’s latest statement read on Wednesday.
“It remains profoundly disappointing that these matters are now being widely canvassed in the public domain without the opportunity being given to me or others to give our accounts or even read the Hawthorn report, which to this day I have not seen.
“The further recent publication of purported extracts from the report means I now have grave concerns that any chance of a fair process and just outcome have been seriously undermined, if not irrevocably corrupted.”
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It’s the second statement Clarkson has released on the matter, after he initially refuted any allegation or wrongdoing when the report first was made public.
On Wednesday Clarkson said he wished to publicly express “in the strongest and most emphatic terms possible” that he did not behave in the manner it is alleged.
He’s disappointed he remains subjected to “further damaging public speculation” as a result of further report reveals.
“I believe the genuine affection I held for all the players who walked through the doors into Hawthorn is well known. I have always appreciated and respected the unique journeys of First Nations players into the highest echelons of Australian rules football,” he said.
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“I have been committed to acknowledging and understanding their many varied experiences and brought all my efforts to ensuring these players are given the opportunity to realise their dreams. But not at any cost, and never at the cost of their families as has been alleged. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and deeply offensive.
“People who know me will understand how important family is to me. I have always carried this value into every organisation I have worked with.
“I acknowledge how difficult it is for any player, and in particular First Nations players to tell their stories about deeply personal matters and I respect every player that has spoken to either the ABC or Phil Egan as part of the Hawthorn Football Club process. Every person has their story and the right to tell it.
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“However, as the allegations against me have been spread widely and sometimes presented as indisputable matters of fact, I must state that my clear memory of the matters reported is very different.”
Clarkson pledged to work with the AFL in their subsequent investigation, just as former Hawks assistant and current Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has done.
“I will continue to cooperate with the AFL and I am trying to retain my trust that it will put in place a fair, respectful and supportive process for all involved. However, I will not hesitate to take further steps to protect my position and reputation should that be necessary.
“I do not intend to make any further comment publicly on the process or on further media reports.”
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Clarkson was due to start as North Melbourne coach on November 1, but that start date has been pushed back so he can assist with the AFL investigation.
Kangaroos club president Dr Sonja Hood has pledged her support of Clarkson in recent days, stating she stands by his “side of the story”.