Indian Super League side Odisha FC sacked their English head coach Stuart Baxter (pictured) for making “unacceptable” comments referencing rape in a post-match interview in Goa. Baxter, 67, made the comments after Odisha lost 1-0 to Jamshedpur.
Baxter, who was formerly head coach of South Africa, said that one of his players “would have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.” His comments triggered uproar on social media forcing Odisha to issue an apology late on Monday.
The Club is appalled at the comments made by Head Coach, Stuart Baxter during the post-match interview today. It is completely unacceptable whatever the context and does not reflect the values of the club.
— Odisha FC (@OdishaFC) February 1, 2021
On Tuesday, the club announced that Baxter 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 poor form (no win in five matches, bottom of the league).
Baxter did apologise for his comments, saying: “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.
He continued: “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.”
Odisha acted swiftly and deserve praise for doing so. Baxter made an extremely crass mistake and will live with the consequences. At 67, he might struggle to find another coaching job.