ABC sports presenter Tony Armstrong has been showered with praise after sharing his thoughts on serious historical allegations about mistreatment of Indigenous players at the Hawthorn Football Club.
On Wednesday, ABC Sport reported an external review of Hawthorn Football Club had uncovered allegations senior staff at Hawthorn demanded the separation of First Nations players from their partners and pressured one player and his partner to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of his career.
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Speaking on ABC News Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Armstrong, who played 35 AFL games between 2010 and 2015, called on Australians to “spare a thought” for the families of those who were allegedly affected.
“I have been thinking very deeply about this this morning,” he started.
“The allegations themselves are very concerning, there’s going to be a lot more to play out with this over the next, who knows how long.
“I just want to send my love to all First Nations people who are out there reading this, anyone who’s affected by this but especially First Nations people, because it has been a tough little period.
“If we put this into a bigger context, we have had basically 10 days of wall-to-wall coverage of the Queen, and I know the Queen means so much to so many people, (but) to first Nations people she was the ultimate symbol of colonisation and we all know what came with colonisation to First Nations people.
“Earlier on this week I think we had the banning of spit hoods that were disproportionately used on First Nations people.
“We currently are seeing what’s happening in the Kumanjayi Walker case and some text messages that have been sent to and from different people who serve in the police.
“We’ve had 517 deaths in custody since the Royal Commission to date, and now these allegations, I mean …
“Contextually on top of all that, it is not easy being out here. I am very, very sad to read these allegations, and I guess most importantly my thoughts are with the families who are allegedly affected, so spare a thought for those people today.”
The video of Armstrong’s speech has registered more than 115,000 views on Twitter in less than eight hours,
“Did my best to sum up my feelings about the last little while,” he wrote on Twitter.
North Melbourne has confirmed that incoming coach Alastair Clarkson’s tenure will be delayed as the AFL’s Integrity Unit investigates the allegations.
On Wednesday, countless footy commentators called for the former Hawthorn coach and his top assistant Chris Fagan, who is now head coach of the Brisbane Lions, to stand aside following the release of a bombshell report.
And a few weeks after signing four-time premiership coach Clarkson on a multimillion dollar deal, the Kangaroos has taken action.
“The North Melbourne Football Club is aware of serious historical allegations made against individuals who worked at the Hawthorn Football Club, including incoming North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson,” the statement read.
“The matters raised are now with the AFL’s Integrity Unit and Alastair welcomes the opportunity to co-operate with any investigation relating to the claims.
“Alastair was due to commence work with North Melbourne on November 1 however he will delay the start of his tenure to allow time to fully participate in the investigation.
“Given the matters raised are confidential and the investigation is ongoing, the club will not provide any further comment at this time.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Lions announced that Fagan was taking a leave of absence.