Clearly at pains to find something to write about (I know the pain of that Martin, but it’s a tad odd considering I think you’re limited to one column a day), Martin Samuel chose to bait Joey Barton. He writes in the Daily Mail:

The gay pressure group, Stonewall, has called again for football to tackle its ‘culture of fear’, while Anders Lindegaard, the Manchester United goalkeeper, has said that football needs a ‘gay hero’.
So here’s a thought. Joey Barton continues his quest for intellectual and social respectability. Why not come out as gay?

I wouldn’t have necessarily written that Samuel is a horrible person in the past, but this article provides compelling evidence. You’re (hopefully) going to be reading a lot about this today, so I want to add my two cents.

First, this article is not offensive because it “picks on” Barton, and nor is it offensive because it presumes Barton is gay. There is nothing wrong with being gay, so I get a little wary of those who go into conniption fits when they’re “accused” of being something they’re patently not.

This article is offensive because of the thinly-coded set of ideological “winks” to his Mail audience. In case they’re unclear, here they are.

First, Samuel identifies Stonewall as a gay “pressure” group and not an “advocacy” group, the presumption being that they’re forcing their agenda on football somehow. This was, of course, deliberate.

Then we have Samuel’s opening sentences:

“Could just one footballer please come out and be gay, so everybody can be really cool about it and the sport can get on with its life? Just one, it’s not much to ask surely? Football is beginning to sound a little desperate with its pleading.”

It’s hard to know to what Samuel is referring when he writes that “football” is desperate for a gay footballer to come out. First, one has, in former MLS regular David Testo. So, well done on your research, Martin.

Second, a gay footballer coming out has nothing to do with being “really cool,” but for current players not to live their lives in fear, sometimes ending lifelong relationships in order to continue their careers, and for future players to take up the game.

And third, “football” isn’t desperate for this. Gay players, whose minority in football likely reflects their societal minority, are still too afraid to come out, which we know carries with it some very deep, painful psychological side-effects (you try hiding your relationship from your coworkers over the course a decades’ long career). And that’s the problem.

Finally, there are Samuel’s disgusting final paragraphs, further proof Samuel is a fairly odious person, ad hominem very much intended:

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.

Note the assumption that coming out as gay will in Samuel’s vision provide incredible benefits for the player in question. One wonders if this is the case why a gay player hasn’t come out earlier. All of these assertions are false, and again, Samuel knows it.

Coming out as gay would place a bullseye on a player’s head, and that player would be subject to relentless abuse from opponents, fans, the tabloid media of which Martin Samuel is an employed member. If that player was at a club with less progressive views on homophobia, he could see his playing minutes reduced, or a few years pass before he’s quietly placed on the transfer market. For all we know, this has already taken place with players merely suspected of being gay.

As for the last two paragraphs, only a massive bigot would send these to their editor for approval, and it would take an even bigger bigot to approve them. The final para, a reference to Barton’s French accent as being gay, is one of the worst things I’ve read this year. The silence so far this morning from his contemporaries is deafening.

Comments (22)

  1. Bob Dole does not like Martin Samuel, nosireee

  2. Whilst im not agreeing with the article the point i think he’s clumsily trying to make is that Barton would be the ideal player to come out as he clearly had broad enough shoulders to take the abuse as frankly he’s had plenty of it in his career

    The wink wink aspect of the article is a bit pathetic

  3. I also like the assertion that a french accent equates to gay. Rock on, journo, rock on.

  4. Is it just me, or have large portions of the English football press (sweeping generalization, yes) decided to adopt National Enquirer-esque tactics for boosting site hits?

  5. Wait…Joey Barton is gay? Like did he just pick him from thin air, or is it like Anderson Cooper before a few months ago – everybody knows it, but he doesn’t say it.

  6. he writes for the daily mail…’nuff said

  7. The really classic Daily Mail aspect of this piece is the implication that coming out as gay would make Barton’s life so much easier.

    It’s the “white heterosexual English people are now the opressed minority” argument that their readers love.

  8. Well written piece. I’ve long thought Samuel was a complete intolerable tosser. This just goes a very long way to proving that.

  9. Barton was well known to patronise certain predominantly gay nightclubs in Manchester. But you know what? So do a lot of straight people! Those are cool clubs in fact. And I might add they are in general better places to meet attractive straight women than historically “straight” clubs. (Barton was known for doing this back in the day also, I might add.)

    Plus, who cares if he is gay? Who cares if anyone is? What a person does in their own bedchamber is pretty uninteresting (to me at least.)

    I’m just glad he did his former Citizens a solid (albeit with characteristic thuggishness) by getting all that extra time tacked on at the end of the last fixture of the season last year.

  10. Wrong, wrong wrong.
    Firstly the article at no point presumes that Barton is Gay.
    Secondly Stonewall could quite accurately be described as a pressure group.
    For years they have both demonstrated in the streets and lobbied hard in the British parliament, eventually pressuring them into changing or repealing aspects of the law.
    You could argue the semantics all day on that one though, but either is probably appropriate.
    Your third rather petty point is really irrelevant. He’s obviously referring to the British football establishment, so referencing an MLS player, would be pointless.
    As for the rest of it, satire is obviously something you don’t understand. He is not only lampooning Barton, but also an element of British, liberal, guardian reading culture.
    Maybe you missed that being Canadian and all.
    Finally Martin Samuel is one of Britain’s most brilliant and decorated sports journalists, regularly winning awards.
    He is not only able to make sports like golf and cricket, interesting, but he is able to deconstruct issues and analyse them, in a clear, simple and interesting manner.
    Perhaps you should read a few more of his columns and take notes, instead of making pithy assumptions about a man’s character, based on a misguided interpretation of one of his pieces.

    • How dare you rebuke Richard F’n Football!

    • “Finally Martin Samuel is one of Britain’s most brilliant and decorated sports journalists”

      Haha, priceless description of the Walrus Of Hate that.

      • Sports Writer of the Year, What the Papers Say awards (2002)
        Sports Writer of the Year, What the Papers Say awards (2005)
        Sports Writer of the Year, What the Papers Say awards (2006)
        Sports Writer of the Year, Sports Journalists’ Association of Great Britain (2005)
        Sports Writer of the Year, Sports Journalists’ Association of Great Britain (2006)
        Sports Writer of the Year, Sports Journalists’ Association of Great Britain (2007)
        Sports Journalist of the Year, British Press Awards (2008)
        Sports Journalist of the Year, British Press Awatds (2011)

  11. I’ve often observed that people who take an unhealthy interest in other people’s sexuality can be repressing their own. So maybe Martin has something to tell us?

  12. Ok it’s a terrible piece by Samuel. Doesn’t really need debating. The questions that needs answering are: Why is it ok for high profile gay sportsmen to come out, if they for example are Rugby Union players, but not footballers? What that say about football fans?

  13. you forgot Justin Fashanu who also came out as gay and suffered years of abuse from the terraces. Who later in life became depressed with the abuse he was getting for his sexuality and killed himself.

  14. You need to start using tags on your post… and you need to get a good tag for him.

    Didn’t read his article, but does he use as many semi-colons as he used to?

  15. Firstly, just to clear some things up for people who are clearly missing the meaning of the article, which is not surprising as it is indeed coded and subtle.

    Samuel is NOT seriously attempting to out Joey Barton. Joey Barton is not gay.

    The reason he picked him out as that he regards Barton as an attention seeker. Samuel was mocking the liberal, left wing attitude to homophobia and the idea that homosexuals need a ‘hero’, and this could be Barton’s latest shtick for attention and analysis. He was not seriously suggesting that a French accent makes someone gay, even though some have chosen to conclude this. He was having a pop at Barton, but not at gay people.

    I agree that you can criticise Samuel for this attitude, but he is not, strictly speaking, mocking homosexuals but more the ‘right on’ media treatment of the subject. Simply because he has this view does not necessarily make him a bigot as many are trying to suggest. He may simply view a player’s sexuality to be completely irrelevant as a subject for debate.

  16. Martin Samuel is probably the best sports writer in the country. Who exactly is Richard Whittall? Even with the help of google I’m struggling to find out.

    A lot of the article was tongue in cheek and I find it incredible you don’t seem to realise this. And even more incredible you can say he is bigot!

    You seem to have a personal issue with Martin, maybe jealous of his deserved success. Or maybe you’re just an idiot. Whatever the reason for this awful analysis I won’t be reading anything else written by you.

  17. Martin Samuel is a clueless, little Englander tosser who’s never watched a foreign game of football in his life. Winning meaningless awards will never alter that fact.

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