Former South Africa coach Stuart Baxter was on Tuesday sacked as the manager of Indian Super League side Odisha FC for “unacceptable” comments about rape during a post-match interview.

On Monday, after his side lost 1-0 to Jamshedpur, the English manager and former player said in a complaint against referees: “I think one of my players would have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty.”

Odisha released a statement shortly after that, saying it “unreservedly” apologised for the 67-year-old’s remarks, before tweeting on Tuesday that Baxter had been sacked.

“Odisha FC has decided to terminate Head Coach, Stuart Baxter’s contract with immediate effect,” the club tweeted. “The interim coach for the remainder of the season will be announced soon.”

Odisha FC club president Rohan Sharma added on Monday on Twitter that he was “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,” he added.

Baxter has since then offered an explanation for his comments in an interview with South African news website Soccer Laduma, saying he couldn’t find the appropriate words and things got “muddled”.

“It must be clear and simple that I distance myself from any sympathetic position on gender-based crimes and violence. My comments, though wholly inappropriate and misplaced, were also out of context,” Baxter was quoted as saying.

“People that know me know that getting it wrong does not reflect any of my views as a father, grandfather, a citizen and 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. This is not who I am, and anybody that knows me, knows who I am.

“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.”

Baxter coached South Africa from 2004-05 and again in 2017-19, and joined Odisha in the middle of last year. He also coached Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United during his time in South Africa.

(With inputs from AFP)