Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson has called on the AFL to take further action on Cyril Rioli’s experiences at Hawthorn that led to the four-time premiership star’s abrupt retirement in 2018.

Rioli and his partner Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli revealed to The Age last weekend several incidents that took place at the Hawks during his 189-game career, culminating in a comment from president Jeff Kennett about Shannyn’s ripped jeans that ultimately led to Cryil’s departure from the game.

Kennett in a statement on Wednesday said the club’s board is “conducting further inquiries to see if there might have been other incidents affecting our past First Nations players”.

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And AFL chief Gillon McLachlan also on Wednesday revealed he’d spoken to people at Hawthorn on the Cyril matter, saying “the priority the cultural safety of the players past and present”.

“I think they are working through the issue and they’ll reach their own conclusions on that, but what the priority is, is the cultural safety of the Indigenous players at the club now and the recent past,” the league boss said.

It comes after former Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge told SEN on Wednesday morning he wasn’t aware of the racist comment made on an end-of-season footy trip in 2013 at the time, claiming the incident was never formally raised with the club’s leadership group.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Wednesday night, Wilson thinks the AFL needs to further investigate the topic.

“Gillon McLachlan, whose response I felt was a little insipid, I‘ve got to say today, it hasn’t been strong, behind the scenes, he has reached out through a third party to the player who was racially vilified on that end-of-season trip,” she said.

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“I’m not sure if he’s spoken to him directly, but he has reached out to him.

“A lot of people are very unhappy about this story, a lot of Hawthorn people are very unhappy, feel they’ve been unfairly portrayed. I think they need to look a lot more deeply into this.”

Former Geelong star and ex-AFL Indigenous engagement and programs manager Matthew Stokes in a column in The Agealso pleaded for the league to make a bolder stance and not repeat mistakes of the past.

“What I haven’t heard are leaders at the AFL declaring loudly that what happened at Hawthorn during Rioli’s career was “completely unacceptable,” Stokes wrote.

“If a club is not equipped to manage a situation where a player asks whether a teammate’s wife is “a b***g,” god help the competition. Key people obviously didn’t know what had occurred but what does that say about the processes in place and the willingness of individuals to raise their concerns?

“If this is swept under the carpet, then I don’t want to hear platitudes around Sir Doug Nicholls Round. I don’t want to hear people saying how deadly the jumpers look or hear about “Buddy” just kicking 1000 goals.”





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