Hawks, Cats talk about alleged AFL taunts

Hawthorn have contacted Geelong over an allegation Mitch Clark was sledged about his depression during their Easter Monday AFL clash.

But the Hawks added it has been difficult to work out exactly what happened.

They also have reminded their players the club does not condone any sort of on-field vilification.

The Hawks football department spoke to their Geelong counterparts after Cats captain Joel Selwood raised the issue during Thursday night’s The Footy Show.

“We have found it difficult to get clarity on what was said and by whom,” Hawthorn said in a club statement.

“However, both clubs agree that any comments made regarding a person’s mental health issues are completely inappropriate and out of bounds on the footy field.”

Clark has returned to the AFL with Geelong after spending 12 months out of the game because of clinical depression.

It is particularly-sensitive issue for the Hawks, given they have worked with the Beyond Blue organisation for the last decade.

Former Hawks president Jeff Kennett is also chairman of Beyond Blue, which aims to raise awareness and understanding of depression and anxiety.

“We don’t condone vilification of any type on-field and have used this opportunity to remind our players of their responsibilities in this area,” said Hawks football operations manager Chris Fagan.

“Mental illness is a serious issue in society and those who experience it don’t deserve to be singled out for abuse or ridicule.”

Earlier on Friday, AFL football operations manager Mark Evans said the league had not received any complaints from Clark or Geelong.

“It can be trapped under the league’s vilification policy – we don’t like people being put down for their race, religion, sexuality, or any impairment or handicap – but it’s hard to act without a complaint,” Evans told 3AW.

“And even when we do get a complaint, it’s best solved via mediation.

“We’ll continue to see where that goes today.”

Geelong banned Steven Motlop for this weekend’s match against Fremantle in the wake of sledging from Hawks players.

The taunts made Cats teammates aware that Motlop was seen drinking at a country football match three days before they played Hawthorn.

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