AFL: Independent probe for 'serious' Hawks allegations

The AFL will outsource an investigation into Hawthorn racism claims which have cast doubt on the tenures of two senior coaches.

Newly appointed North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson and Brisbane coach Chris Fagan will be afforded "natural justice" by an independent panel examining the racism claims, the AFL says.

Clarkson and Fagan have been named in an ABC report detailing historic racism allegations from some Hawthorn players.

One former Hawthorn player alleged he was told by Clarkson to terminate his partner's pregnancy, the ABC reported.

The player told the ABC a group of coaches, including Clarkson and his then senior assistant coach Fagan, urged him to have his partner's pregnancy terminated, to break up with his partner, and to move into the home of an assistant coach.

Clarkson was coach of Hawthorn between 2005 and 2021, while Fagan was a senior assistant coach and general manager of football at the club from 2008-16 before being appointed the Lions' coach in 2017.

Fagan remains in that role, while Clarkson was last month appointed as North Melbourne's new coach on a five-year contract starting this November.

Both clubs have been approached for comment.

Hawthorn earlier this year commissioned an external review into claims of racism.

The review document was given to Hawthorn hierarchy and the AFL's integrity unit a fortnight ago.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the claims would be directed to a newly formed independent panel to be headed by a King's Counsel.

"These are serious allegations," McLachlan told reporters on Wednesday.

"And it's important that we treat them appropriately whilst also ensuring the formal process provides support to those impacted and also natural justice to those people who are accused.

"This is a process that it's appropriate that it is held independent of the normal AFL integrity department response.

"As such, we are appointing an external independent panel that will be made up by four people led by an eminent King's Counsel.

"We need to run a proper investigation to get to the bottom of it ... out of respect to those making the allegations and out of respect to those being accused.

"We need to provide natural justice ... but we will seek to have that panel in place as quickly as possible."

Hawthorn said the review "raised disturbing historical allegations".

"While the process indicated the current environment at the club is culturally safe, it also recommended that some of the club's current First Nations training and development programs should continue to be strengthened", the club said in a statement.

AFL Players' Association chief executive Paul Marsh said he was "extremely concerned" at the ABC report, published on Wednesday.

One couple was pressured to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of the player's career, the ABC reported.

"Clarkson just leaned over me and demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner," the un-named player told the ABC.

"I was then manipulated and convinced to remove my SIM card from my phone so there was no further contact between my family and me.

"They told me I'd be living with one of the other coaches from that night onwards."

The player's partner detailed an alleged meeting with Hawthorn's then player development manager Jason Burt.

"Jason had repeatedly told me that (the player) had made these decisions on his own but I knew there was more to it," she told the ABC.

"Burt actually confirmed my thoughts when he said Hawthorn had decided it was better for (the player's) footy career if he didn't become a father.

"They just wanted him to move on from his family and focus on football."

She did not go through with a termination and said only at the five-month mark of the pregnancy was the player allowed by the club to return to his family, the report alleged.