Australian rules-AFLCA calls for coaching presence on Hawthorn probe panel

(Reuters) - The Australian Football League Coaches' Association has called on the league to include an experienced coach or football administrator on a panel investigating allegations of mistreatment of Indigenous players at Hawthorn.

The AFL has promised an investigation into "serious allegations" about the treatment of the former players, including one that coaches urged a player to have his partner's pregnancy aborted.

The allegations from the unnamed players were contained in an independent review commissioned by Hawthorn and were reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week.

Former Hawthorn head coach Alastair Clarkson and his onetime assistant Chris Fagan have denied any wrongdoing during their time at the Melbourne-based club.

"Football clubs are unique environments," AFLCA CEO Alistair Nicholson said in a statement on Monday.

"They become a second home for players, and coaches are often required to be much more than just football mentors.

"Coaches are regularly called on to provide advice and support on non-football related issues, particularly with younger players who have left home to join an AFL club.

"It would significantly enhance the investigation if someone who intimately understands that environment and has deep experience in managing the wellbeing of players was included on the panel."

The league has yet to assemble the four-person panel to look into the allegations.

The AFLCA said it fully endorsed the league's decision to investigate the allegations and that its "thoughts were with the players and families who shared their stories, as well as other First Nations people who had been directly or indirectly affected by the publicity around the situation".

It said it was also continuing to offer both Clarkson and Fagan "support with a focus on their personal wellbeing".

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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