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Bizarre Dispute of the Week: Joey Barton v Martin Samuel

Olympique Marseille midfielder Joey Barton
Barton… Fink

Things got a bit weird yesterday when respected football writer Martin Samuel called upon Marseille midfielder Joey Barton to come out as gay in this questionable Daily Mail article (doesn’t that phrase just roll off the tongue?).

Citing the lack of homosexual role models in top flight men’s football, Samuel wrote:

Joey Barton continues his quest for intellectual and social respectability. Why not come out as gay?

Instant credibility, instant respect, untouchable by the Football Association or future employers. His past misdeeds mentally reprocessed and explained.

‘Well, of course he put his cigar out in that bloke’s face, Gary. He was a tortured soul, forced to live a lie.’

And imagine the new material. A never-ending treasure trove for Barton’s Twitter feed: Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Lady Bunny.

And, let’s face it, with that new accent, he’s probably halfway there.

Samuel was of course referring to this clip of Barton affecting a French accent…

…giving rise to the suspicion that Samuel believes speaking with a French accent to constitute just enough homosexuality to make someone half-gay. Hmmm.

Naturally, Barton took to Twitter to vent his spleen at this apparently groundless suggestion (unless of course Samuel knows something we don’t)…

I see Jim Royles giving it beans about my sexuality in the Daily Mail. Like thats anything to do with him. Can he say what he’s said?

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

The vaguely amusing Royle Family reference went over this guy’s head…

@joey7barton I just tried to search the Mail online and could not find piece by Jim Royles, what did he say exactly Joey ?

— Richard Brecker (@RichardBrecker) December 5, 2012

…but Barton had no inclination to stop and explain when he had legal advice to seek out…

Sounds slightly bigoted and homophobic to me. Any legal-eagles out there know if he can get away with this?

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

@joey7barton Media law course (in Broadcast Journalism) at uni tells me that being “accused” of being gay doesn’t constitute libel

— Max Preston (@MaxPreston) December 5, 2012

Barton tacitly emphasised his heterosexual credentials…

My sexuality is of no concern to anyone except me and my family. Can’t see the missus being happy about this piece.

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

Nor, would I like my child (when old enough) to read this tripe. Shoddy journalism.

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

…which sparked a debate involving Mirror journalist Simon Bird and Football Diaries editor Stuart Coleman…

@joey7barton read up on Jason Donovan v the face magazine “gay” libel case. He won, but confronted by qst – is saying someone’s gay a libel?

— Simon Bird (@simonbirdmirror) December 5, 2012

@simonbirdmirror @joey7barton It’s presumably the fact that it is untrue quite apart from any inferred offense at the suggestion

— Stuart Coleman (@FootballDiaries) December 5, 2012

@simonbirdmirror It’s certainly a good point – if @joey7barton does sue, will he be seen as implying a personal issue with homosexuality?

— Stuart Coleman (@FootballDiaries) December 5, 2012

By now, Barton had made up his mind on how to take this forwards…

I will probably have to sue. I don’t really need the money or the hassle. So I offer this as a olive branch.

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

Actually, no. Theres no olive branch. Enough’s enough.

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

…incurring the following rather salient warning…

@joey7barton Not sure it would reflect well to be seen to be taking action for “a gay slur” – as if you think being gay is a bad thing…

— Catherine Fraser (@MrsCFraser) December 5, 2012

Like Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor after someone covered all his darts in superglue, Barton just couldn’t let it go…

Its just wrong and a little bit weird why he would write this. twitter.com/Joey7Barton/st…

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

Jermaine PedantJermaine Pedant says… All litigious matters aside, the above message is bookended by grammatical inaccuracies: there should be an apostrophe in it’s to indicate that it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ and not the possessive form of it, while you end with a question and should therefore punctuate accordingly.

Furthermore, you should have separated that into two clauses. Splitting it into two sentences would also have sufficed, a device I might’ve opted for in my above corrections. As it is, I feel the colon stands its (possessive) ground.

One Chuck Taylor had this explanation for Samuel’s attentions…

@joey7barton maybe he fancies you

— chuck taylor (@chucktaylor1961) December 5, 2012

…as Barton raged on, condemning Samuel by citing current events…

In light of the Leveson enquiry, it seems a strange thing to print. I mean I have never even met the guy. He doesn’t know me. Shocking

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 5, 2012

This chap needs to learn the difference between racism and xenophobia…

@joey7barton The last sentence of the column sounds kind of racist as well.

— Vincent Matalon (@vincentmatalon) December 5, 2012

…while Sheffield FC manager and light-welterweight boxer Curtis Woodhouse simplified the whole palaver with the following razor-sharp analysis…

@joey7barton well you are acting like a big girl over it so if the shoe fits?

— curtis woodhouse (@woodhousecurtis) December 5, 2012

As of yet, Martin Samuel is not on Twitter, so we await with bated breath to hear what he, er, ‘comes out’ with.

Should Barton sue? Have your say in the comments section below…