'This is not who I am': Baxter says comments that led to Odisha sack taken 'out of context'

"My comments, though wholly inappropriate and misplaced, are also out of context," Stuart Baxter said. Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Former Odisha FC manager Stuart Baxter, who was sacked by the club on Tuesday for his offensive comments, has said that his remarks were interpreted 'out of context' and are 'not who I am'.

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Following their 1-0 loss to Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Monday, in which Odisha were denied a late penalty, Baxter had said, "one of my players will have to rape someone or get raped in the box to get a penalty." Soon after the match, the club apologised for Baxter's comments, calling them 'completely unacceptable'. The following day, Baxter's contract was terminated with immediate effect.

"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," Baxter was quoted as saying in a report in South African website Soccer Laduma.

Baxter added that he failed to find the right words to describe his disappointment at his team not being awarded a penalty. "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 said.

"This is not who I am, and anybody that knows me, knows who I am."

Baxter emphasised the 'pain' he felt at the hit his image had taken as a result. "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."

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Baxter, who has coached, among others, the Kaizer Chiefs and the South African men's national team, was appointed to a one-year contract in August. Currently bottom of the table with just one win from 14 games, Odisha also announced that an interim coach will be named soon for the remainder of the season.