Jawad Iqbal Jawad Iqbal

What Joey Barton gets wrong – and right – about female football pundits

Joey Barton (Credit: Getty images)

Joey Barton, the ex-Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR player, is in hot water again – this time over a series of blatantly sexist posts on social media, criticising women commentators and pundits. He posted that ‘women shouldn’t be talking with any kind of authority in the men’s game’, arguing it was the same as him ‘talking about knitting or netball’. Barton added: ‘Any man who listens to Women commentary or co-comms needs their headed testing …’ He refused to back down in a subsequent television interview with Piers Morgan, in which he maintained that ‘it’s not to do with sexism at all’, and instead blamed what he described as a ‘woke agenda’ in football.

Barton is wrong, of course, to single out women pundits per se in the men’s game. Does he really mean to suggest that someone such as Sarina Wiegman, the successful England women’s team manager, has no useful insights worth sharing on the men’s game and football in general? She may not have played in the Premier League but she has certainly been more successful in football management than Barton.

So much football coverage on television increasingly appears to be about anything and everything but the game itself

The other problem with Barton’s misguided musing is that he presupposes that, before female commentators arrived on the scene, football fans were being well-served. It is a stretch to make the case that the new generation of female pundits is somehow dragging down the quality of insight and erudite analysis provided by the army of male ex-players who have dominated our television screens for years. The issue here is not one of gender when it comes to football punditry; is is the fact that the punditry circus is teeming with ex-pros and chums who are paid large sums of money for doing little more than stating the obvious in the lamest way possible.

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Written by
Jawad Iqbal

Jawad Iqbal is a broadcaster and ex-television news executive. Jawad is a former Visiting Senior Fellow in the Institute of Global Affairs at the LSE

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