The UK’s sports minister has strongly criticized Joey Barton’s remarks about female football commentators as “harmful” and has pledged to take action with social media companies.
Barton has displayed misogynistic behavior by making derogatory remarks about women in the media. He referred to ITV pundits Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward as “the Fred and Rose West of football” and accused some commentators of using personal relationships to gain success. He also claimed that women are not knowledgeable enough to discuss the sport.
Stuart Andrew, addressing the culture, media, and sport select committee, stated that the government strongly disapproved of Barton’s comments and was exploring options for possible reprimands.
“He expressed concern over these comments, as they may lead to an increase in abusive behavior, which is unacceptable. However, I am cautious in situations like these, as it may give these individuals the attention they seek and I do not want to contribute to that.”
“I would like to acknowledge the incredible impact that women and girls have in the world of football and sports in our country,” he stated. “The availability for young individuals to participate in weekend football would not be possible without the dedication of numerous volunteers, many of whom are women. Therefore, I strongly denounce any actions that diminish their contributions.”
Andrew made a pledge to send a letter to X (formerly known as Twitter) and Meta, a technology company. Julie Elliot MP stated that Meta will be hosting Barton’s upcoming show, Common Sense With Joey Barton, in the following month.
The minister of sports stated that Ofcom may also have the ability to step in, stating: “The Online Safety Act requires Ofcom to provide guidance. Therefore, we are anticipating that.”
Additionally, Andrew disclosed that the government plans to hold another roundtable with sports organizations to address their transgender policies in the near future. He also noted that the Football Association has been slow in implementing updated guidelines.
When asked about his thoughts on the FA, Andrew stated that the government’s stance is to prioritize fairness and safety. He emphasized that these should be the main considerations when creating policies.
“It is the responsibility of each individual sport to create their own policies, as each sport has its own unique characteristics and will face different consequences,” he stated. “That is why we are convening this roundtable with them, to assess the progress being made and hold them accountable.”
“I am strongly determined to ensure that the tone of our conversations remains respectful, regardless of the topic. We must remember that we are discussing individuals.”
Andrew mentioned that the government was keeping a close watch on the Football Association’s investigation into the passing of Sheffield United player Maddy Cusack.
Cusack’s family is understood to have written to United outlining a range of issues she had been facing, which they said all stemmed from her relationship with the club’s manager, Jonathan Morgan.
United conducted a third-party inquiry after receiving the complaint. The investigation concluded last year and found no evidence of any misconduct by anyone associated with the club.
Andrew stated that the FA will be examining the evidence collected by the club and he believes this is necessary in order to properly address the issues at hand. He emphasized the importance of shining a spotlight on these matters.