Joey Barton’s negative social media posts regarding women working in men’s football are “dangerous” and could lead to abuse, according to sports minister Stuart Andrew.
Former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder Barton has courted controversy with a number of comments about female commentators and pundits in recent weeks.
Last week, ITV released a statement to criticise “vindictive remarks” made by Barton towards Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward, who were working on live coverage of Crystal Palace’s goalless FA Cup draw with Everton.
Barton compared the pair to serial killers Fred and Rose West on X, formerly known as Twitter, in comments described by the broadcaster as “contemptible and shameful”.
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Barton responded to ITV’s statement with another expletive-laden social media post, describing the broadcaster as “woke”.
On Tuesday, Andrew added his voice to those criticising Barton while appearing at an inquiry into women’s sport by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Asked by Labour MP Julie Elliott if he condemned Barton’s comments, Andrew – who serves as parliamentary under-secretary of state for sport, tourism and civil society – said: “Yes, I would.
“These are comments that open the floodgates for abuse and that’s not acceptable.
A message from ITV Sport. pic.twitter.com/6To8BkNWc1
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) January 5, 2024
“I’m always wary in these situations that these sorts of people want the oxygen and I don’t want to fuel that.
“I want to put on record my thanks for the amazing contribution that women and girls make to football and sport more generally.”
Andrew then added he would speak to social media platforms in order to find ways of countering sexist comments online.
Barton pursued a coaching career following his retirement from playing in 2017, but has been unemployed since being sacked by League One outfit Bristol Rovers last October.