Ligue 1

Marseille issues Barton apology

GAGGED
Marseille midfielder Joey Barton's comments have landed the player in trouble.
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Marseille have apologized to Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva after on-loan midfielder Joey Barton called the Brazil international an "overweight ladyboy."

The midfielder, on loan from QPR, was ordered by Marseille officials to cease his attack on the Brazilian, which was also condemned by PSG and a prominent anti-homophobia group based in the French capital.

Barton wrote a series of Twitter messages on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, in which he went as far as questioning whether Silva was "pre-op or post-op."

His outburst apparently stemmed from comments made by Silva ahead of PSG's Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, when there was an oblique reference to Barton. Silva spoke of an English Marseille player whose name he claimed to have forgotten that had taken to criticizing big-name players including David Beckham because nobody was talking about him.

Marseille said in a statement on Wednesday night that the club and Barton were keen to apologize for the midfielder's "inappropriate comments", adding: "The management asked Joey Barton to put an end to the attack on PSG's Brazilian defender. The Marseille midfielder pledged to immediately cease the posting of anything derogatory about Thiago Silva."

Barton made his initial "overweight ladyboy" remark following PSG's 2-2 draw with Barcelona, and on Wednesday morning added: "2 questions for Thiago Silva. Firstly, Why are YOU talking about ME, in your press conference before PSG v Barca? Very strange.

"Secondly, Are you Pre-Op or Post-Op? #transsexual #thiagosaladyboy.

"Baffles me, which way he's going. Is he a man changing to a woman or a woman changing to a man? Can't work it out."

The anti-homophobia group Paris Foot Gay said they had discussed Barton's comments with French league chiefs, and that they had been told he would be reported to the French Football Federation's national ethical council.

Reports from France last night claimed that the FFF would not be taking the issue any further, after reviewing Barton's comments.

Paris Foot Gay said that Barton's comments were "without doubt based on the stereotype linking Brazil to transsexualism".

In a statement on their website, they added: "Paris Foot Gay considers this type of remark to be vulgar, discriminatory and funny to nobody and it should not be tolerated in someone with such a profile. To be a football idol excuses nothing and should, on the contrary, make players responsible for the impact of their remarks on the public (youngsters especially."

Silva's club were quick to defend their player, as PSG expressed their unhappiness with Barton's "unacceptable remarks".

The Ligue 1 leaders warned they could take action, which they did not specify, against the former England international.

A statement from PSG announced: "In the last few hours, on social networks, unacceptable remarks have been made by Marseille player Joey Barton against Paris St Germain player Thiago Silva.

"These attacks are serious and go beyond mere verbal jousting. The directors of the club, the players and the coaching staff are supportive of Thiago Silva and cannot accept such statements.

"They reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the values of respect that should govern our sport.

"Thiago Silva and Paris St Germain reserve the right to take any action they deem necessary."

France's sports daily L'Equipe has a picture of Barton dominating its front page on Thursday, with the caption "Is that British humor?".

Barton left QPR to make his loan move last summer after a series of controversies blighted his career at Loftus Road, culminating in his spree of violent behavior on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium on the final day of last season, in QPR's clash with Manchester City, that resulted in a 12-game suspension.

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