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ISL 2020-21: Odisha FC sack Stuart Baxter after his distasteful ‘rape’ comment

ISL 2020-21: Odisha FC sack Stuart Baxter after his distasteful ‘rape’ comment

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 2 Feb 2021 7:00 AM GMT

Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter on Monday made a rather distasteful comment involving the word ‘rape’ in a post-match interaction following Odisha FC’s defeat against Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). The British coach said, “One of our players will have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was to get a penalty” in reply to a question about some of the refereeing decisions in the match. The analogy was supposed to underline the fact that the Kalinga Warriors have been on the wrong end of quite a few penalty claims this season.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many incidents where something as serious as rape has been reduced to a flippant analogy by a public figure. Not just rape, words such as ‘depression’, ‘schizophrenia’ and many others often find a place in colloquial language in a context that reduces their importance in terms of how serious they actually are. In a country like India where there is a distinct but subverted ‘sab chalta hai’ mentality that condones such actions, it is important to understand that rape is a reprehensible act of violence and should never ever be used in the manner that it was by Mr. Baxter. This is why such a comment is extremely irresponsible and sends a wrong message. In saying what he did, he ended up trivializing something as serious as rape and that too in a sporting context.

There has been a collective cringe on social media and much backlash has followed suit. Meanwhile, after initially coming forward and issuing a public apology using their social media handles, Odisha FC have now decided to part ways with the Englishman and have terminated his contract with immediate effect. While it is understandable that the frustration of a defeat and some refereeing decisions not going his way got the better of him, it still doesn’t exempt him from the impact his words can have on young impressionable minds. In light of this, one has to say that sacking him was probably the only way forward.

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