Alison Kervin

Joey Barton doesn’t know anything about women in sport 

Joey Barton (Photo: Getty)

Joey Barton – the Pied Piper of disaffected football fans – has had a busy week. He began by comparing female football commentators to Fred and Rose West, the serial killers who murdered 12 young women. He then went on to imply that female commentators had slept their way to the top.

It would be unwise to take Barton too seriously. It’s long been the chosen road of the deeply insecure man to attack confident women. I’ve worked in sport all my life. And throughout it I’ve faced opposition from the small-minded, although never from the stars themselves or the people who matter. It’s always the man in the county blazer with his many chins resting on a grubby collar who mutters about the good ol’ days when women clutched frying pans instead of microphones. 

It’s long been the chosen road of the deeply insecure man to attack confident women

So, if Joey Barton thinks he’s a lone crusader against the tyranny of women in sport, he’s not. He’s a throwback to a rather dim past. When I became the editor of Rugby World magazine in the mid-90s, the news was met with booing in the Houses of Parliament. When I joined the Times as rugby editor, readers rang the paper to say they would never read it again. This was before I’d written a word.   

I became the first woman since the 1970s to watch a football match in Iran when I travelled out there to report on a match for the Times. The ban on women was lifted for one game, and I was spat at in the streets and elbowed into the gutter. All this was before Barton got his first professional contract. 

Women working in male-dominated fields have waded through this sort of excrement throughout their careers.

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