Former Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter has spoken up for the first time since his dismissal from the Indian Super League (ISL) outfit on Tuesday morning. While apologizing for his comments, the 67-year-old also came clear of any intentional appropriation of violence against women from his part. For the uninitiated, reacting after his side’s narrow loss against Jamshedpur FC, the veteran coach had said, “I don't know when we are going to get our penalty. One of my players will have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.”
In his statement to African publication Soccer Laduma, the former South African national team head coach said, “It must be clear and simple that I distance myself from any sympathetic position on gender based crimes and violence. I find that abhorrent. My comments, though wholly inappropriate and misplaced, are also out of context.” He also stressed on how the verbiage used by him was merely reflective of the dismay he felt at not being awarded a penalty.
He also added, “I was searching for the words and I got it wrong. But people that know me know that getting it wrong does not reflect any of my views as a father, grandfather, a citizen and a 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.”
Baxter’s stay at Odisha FC has mostly been tumultuous with the side struggling with consistency as well as injuries. They find themselves at the bottom of the points table with a handful of games left and it seems like they are destined for a last-place finish. However, what will have disappointed fans is the way that the last couple of days have transpired for the former Bafana Bafana coach. A hugely respectable figure in the footballing circuit, it is a shame that his character is being questioned and one can only hope that he learns from this mistake and steers clear of such controversial statements in the future.