Updated: February 3, 2021 10:22:55 am
A BRITISH football manager in charge of Indian Super League (ISL) team Odisha FC was Tuesday sacked for a post-match comment that his players “would have to rape someone or get raped” to get a penalty decision in their favour.
Stuart Baxter, 67, made the comment Monday night after his side lost 1-0 to Jamshedpur in Bambolim, Goa. Speaking about the impact of referees’ decisions on the match during an interview with official broadcaster Star Sports, Baxter said: “You need decisions to go your way and they didn’t. I don’t know when we’re going to get a penalty. I think one of my players would have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.”
Within moments, Odisha FC “unreservedly apologised” for Baxter’s remarks and said they were “appalled”. The club’s owner, Rohan Sharma, said in a series of tweets: “I am absolutely disgusted and infuriated by the comments. I’ve said Odisha FC is a safe space for all, and to make light of a serious awful crime in such an offhanded way is reprehensible. I sincerely apologize to everyone on my behalf and the clubs. Please be rest assured I am not going to take this matter lightly.”
On Tuesday, the club announced they had sacked Baxter, who was appointed as the manager last June in a two-year deal. “Odisha FC has decided to terminate Head Coach Stuart Baxter’s contract with immediate effect. The interim coach for the remainder of the season will be announced soon,” it said in a statement.
In his managerial career that has spanned 35 years, Baxter has coached the national teams of South Africa and Finland, and the junior team of England, along with top clubs in Japan and Sweden. He leaves Odisha at the bottom of the 11-team ISL table, having picked up eight points from 14 games so far this season.
In contrast to his comments on live television, Baxter was more cautious in the post-match press conference, held virtually, when he took a pot-shot at the referees but also lamented poor decisions made by his players on the field.
The quality of refereeing in the ISL has come under heavy scrutiny this season, as managers of almost all teams have openly criticised several decisions. The ISL organisers have since set up an official forum for managers, federation officials and referees to discuss aspects related to officiating the games.