Indian footballers Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Suresh Wangjam condemned the alleged sexual misconduct by former U17 women’s team assistant coach Alex Ambrose, saying that more needs to be done to keep Indian football safe for men and women.

India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Sandhu took to social media to state that everyone involved in the Indian football setup needs to do more to ensure a safe environment is created for men and women across age groups.

“I’ve always tried to do my bit to advocate the push for women’s football in the country. But the alleged incident/s from the past week is are a reminder that I, and all of us, need to do more. Sexual misdemeanours should have no place in society, let alone football,” he said on social media.

“While things surrounding the incident take their course, it is our responsibility to make sure that we protect everyone involved with our sport we love so much.

“Let’s put some genuine thought and effort to see how we can better the environment for our girls and boys, through the ranks. This needs to be done, and soon.”

Concuring with Sandhu, fellow Bengaluru FC teammate Wangjam said that the guilty should be ‘punished harshly’ and that women’s football, which has been on the rise, should be encouraged further.

“The incident of sexual misconduct surrounding the Girls U17 team is very disturbing.I hope that a thorough investigation is carried out and the guilty are punished harshly. Women’s football has been on the rise, and we have to do everything to encourage it,” Wangjam said.

“How will parents allow their daughters to pursue football professionally when there is no system for their safety? We should do more.”

Former India international Ambrose was sacked as assistant coach of the Indian U17 women’s football team after a minor player accused the 39-year-old of sexual misconduct.

Ambrose was provisionally suspended by the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators before his sacking was confirmed by CoA member Dr SY Quraishi.

The Times of India reported that Ambrose was asked to appear before the AIFF’s internal complaints committee on Monday but failed to show up stating that he could not appear at short notice.

“According to Ambrose, he is in Goa and needs to book train tickets to travel to Delhi (where the AIFF’s headquarters is located). He said he cannot come before July 10 or 11,” TOI quoted a senior AIFF official.

Reports also said that a police complaint would be filed against Ambrose who will likely be charged under the POCSO Act which deals with child sexual abuse cases.