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Ex-England player's harmful comments prove sexism in football is still rampant

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31st January, 2024

Joey Barton, the controversial ex-footballer has made the rounds again in the football world, this time for criticising women’s voices in the men’s game. Barton likened two female commentators and pundits to notorious serial killers Fred and Rose West, this after tweeting a month earlier that “women shouldn’t be talking with any kind of authority in the men’s game”.

To have an ex-professional footballer who has a large following, combined with the impressionable nature of teens – particularly male teens – on social media, is frankly irresponsible.

The website,, reported last year “close to half of all women in football believed they had been overlooked for career progression due to their gender”. Joey Barton’s words have come at a time when controversial figures like Andrew Tate have come to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist, compounding the impact of his words and potentially influencing the opinion of young men.

Barton’s words are frustrating, abhorrent and irresponsible. As if someone shouldn’t be allowed to comment on something just because they are a different gender to the field they are commenting on. If that is the case, then we wouldn’t have presenters such as Kate Abdo or Laura Woods.

Joey Barton’s words insinuate a toxic mindset that has been in football ever since its creation – the mindset of ‘women aren’t allowed in professional football’ – and contributes to the everpresent misogyny that is unfortunately rampant.

There is a misogyny problem all around football. Ex-pros like Joey Barton commenting and pushing this narrative, contributing to the barrier that women face in football, to social media, where clips of professional female players fails are constantly going viral, with misogynistic comments directed at the players’ skill levels and how they’re apparently worse than little boys, when male players make the same or even worse mistakes and hardly ever get made fun of to the degree that female players are.


As a person with a disability, I empathise with the circumstances and situations surrounding women’s football. I know firsthand how frustratingly hard it is to break into an industry where you’re the minority; it feels like the world is against you. Even when women in the football field have succeeded, there will always be backlash.

For example, Rebecca Welch became the first female referee in the Premier League. A moment of would-be joy for the beautiful game turned out to be a horrible afternoon for the referee, with The Guardian reporting that there were sexist comments and chants from the crowd directed toward Welch.

Rebecca Welch. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

So what needs changing?

I must first acknowledge that as a man, I am unable to comment on what women want and need for football to be more welcoming to them. In my opinion, there needs to be tighter online security regarding misogyny in football, and bans need to be put into place for people who exhibit misogynistic behaviour. Players in positions of power, as well as broadcasters, must take a stronger stand in kicking misogyny out of the game and setting an example.


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Sexism in football is still rampant. For a sport that prides itself on being ‘The World’s Game’, its powerbrokers don’t do enough to make sure everyone in the world is welcome to enjoy it.