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Fagan denies wrongdoing in racism scandal

Chris Fagan has joined Alastair Clarkson in denying any wrongdoing in the AFL racism scandal, saying he is "deeply distressed" about allegations that threaten his coaching career.

Both coaches say they will co-operate with an independent investigation into racism claims from their time at Hawthorn, described as "sickening" by the federal government.

The AFL is set to appoint a four-person panel of investigators, led by a King's Counsel.

In the meantime, Fagan has taken leave from his coaching post at Brisbane, while Clarkson will delay starting his new appointment at North Melbourne.

Former Hawthorn player welfare manager Jason Burt has taken indefinite leave from his position at a Melbourne private school and ex-Hawks president Andrew Newbold has taken a leave of absence from the AFL Commission.

"I was shocked and deeply distressed by the allegations reported in the media yesterday concerning my time at the Hawthorn Football Club," Fagan said in a statement to AFL.com.au on Thursday.

"I deny, categorically, the allegations of wrongdoing by me in relation to First Nations players at the Hawthorn Football Club.

"I have had very positive relationships with First Nations players throughout my many years in football, and, indeed players from different racial and ethnic groups."

The racism allegations were reported by the ABC on Wednesday, following an investigation commissioned by Hawthorn earlier in the year.

Fagan said he was not interviewed as part of the Hawthorn review.

The ABC said Fagan, Clarkson and Burt did not respond to questions put to them.

"I intend to defend myself," Fagan said.

"It is my hope that people will judge me based upon the way I actually conduct myself and not by what is written in the media.

"I support and welcome the investigation announced by the AFL yesterday.

"I intend to participate fully in the investigation and look forward to being heard and being accorded due process and fairness."

Among the many allegations made by unnamed former Hawthorn players, Fagan and Clarkson were accused of telling a player and his partner to terminate their pregnancy and separate so the player could focus on football.

Clarkson denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Wednesday.

"The health, care and welfare of our players, staff and their families were always my highest priorities during my time at Hawthorn," Clarkson said.

"I was therefore shocked by the extremely serious allegations reported in the media earlier today."

Four-time premiership coach Clarkson was at Hawthorn between 2005 and 2021.

Fagan was a senior assistant coach to Clarkson and general manager of football at the Hawks from 2008 to 2016, before being appointed Brisbane coach in 2017.

The furore prompted Eddie Betts to call on all AFL clubs to conduct reviews of their historical treatment of Indigenous players, similar to that undertaken by Hawthorn.

AFL executive member Travis Auld said the league will continue to consult Betts on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.

But it has not got as far as acting upon the former Carlton and Adelaide star's suggestion of widespread reviews across the competition.

"Right now the focus is on putting a panel together and starting this particular investigation because there are people that have been impacted, clearly, and we want to get to the facts as quick as we can," Auld told reporters on Thursday.

The AFL has said all parties will be afforded "natural justice" through its investigation.

"What's important is to understand the facts and talk to the people that have been clearly impacted by this," Auld said.