Angers sack manager Abdel Bouhazama for downplaying sexual assault

Abdel Bouhazama has left Angers after a series of poor results and a row triggered by inappropriate comments made by the head coach, the Ligue 1 club said on Tuesday.

Bouhazama appeared to downplay sexual assault in his prematch team talk before a 5-0 defeat by Montpellier last weekend.

"It's not that serious, we have all touched girls," the head coach told his players to justify the presence of Ilyes Chetti in Angers' starting lineup.

Chetti has been charged for sexually assaulting a woman in a nightclub last month.

In a club statement released on Tuesday, Angers said the manager had already planned to step down due to a poor run of form before his comments.

"The decision to resign was taken by him at the end of February after several disappointments on the sporting front," Angers, who are bottom of the standings, said in a statement.

"In addition, a controversy arose on Monday after comments, taken out of context, made during the prematch talk, were leaked to the local and national press.

"Faced with media pressure and in order to preserve the club's image and the serenity of the dressing room, Abdel Bouhazama announced to president Said Chabane that he had decided to leave his position as coach of the professional team. The president accepted the coach's decision."

The statement added: "Angers unreservedly condemns the words spoken during the talk, even if they seem to be more clumsy than intended to trivialise a sexist remark.

"Moreover, the club does not accept any form of discrimination and condemns sexism and misogyny.

"Abdel Bouhazama has apologised to his colleagues, particularly female ones, and has therefore preferred to draw the consequences of both his record and his blunders."

Angers are bottom of the league table on 10 points with 12 matches of the campaign to go.

Information from Reuters was included in this report.