File image of Stuart Baxter. (Getty Images)
File image of Stuart Baxter. (Getty Images)

Odisha FC sack Baxter for offensive comments

  • Baxter, 67, made the comments after the cellar lost 0-1 to Jamshedpur FC.
UPDATED ON FEB 02, 2021 11:16 PM IST

Odisha FC have sacked head coach Stuart Baxter for making “unacceptable” comments referencing rape in a post-match interview in Goa. Baxter, 67, made the comments after the cellar lost 0-1 to Jamshedpur FC.

Baxter, who was previously South Africa's head coach, said that one of his players “would have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.” The comment sparked a furore on social media forcing the franchise to issue an apology late on Monday. Odisha FC said they were “appalled at the comments”, which were “completely unacceptable whatever the context.”

On Tuesday, the club announced that Baxter, under whom South Africa beat hosts Egypt in the 2019 African Cup of Nations pre-quarter final, had been sacked. “The interim coach for the remainder of the season will be announced soon,” Odisha FC said on Twitter. The club has made it clear that Baxter’s sacking had nothing to do with the team’s current form.

Baxter took charge in June on a two-year contract. The club are currently bottom of the 11-team ISL, with one win, eight defeats and five draws so far. Crucially, Odisha FC have not got a penalty in 14 games of ISL7. The incident Baxter was referring to came late in the game when Odisha FC’s Diego Maricio was deemed to be fouled by Jamshedpur FC goalie TP Rehenesh.

Late on Tuesday, Baxter apologised for his comments to a media outlet in South Africa where he has coached top team Kaiser Chiefs to league and cup doubles. “It must be clear and simple that I distance myself from any sympathetic position on gender-based crimes and violence. My comments, though wholly inappropriate and misplaced, are also out of context,” quoted him as saying.

Baxter said he couldn’t find the appropriate words and things got “muddled.” “People that know me know that getting it wrong does not reflect any of my views as a father, grandfather, a citizen and husband. There’s never been any sort of suspicion that I am not wholly against violence towards females. It would be cowardly, I think it is despicable and I have always made my views known. This is not who I am, and anybody that knows me, knows who I am.

“When you lose a job, that’s a job. But what people think of you is important to me. The biggest pain I am feeling now is that I have not spoken in the way that reflects how I feel, and therefore people are questioning me. That hurts - more than losing my job.”

Baxter was one of the three English coaches in ISL7; the others being Owen Coyle at Jamshedpur FC and Robbie Fowler at SC East Bengal.

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