If you asked me a week ago what I thought of Joey Barton and I would have said: "mindless thug". My views have changed a little. On BBC3 the other night, there was a documentary on gay footballers presented by Amal Fashanu who is the niece of the late Justin Fashanu - the only out gay English football professional.
No top footballers would take part apart from Joey Barton and a few from Millwall. Joey revealed that his uncle is gay and said he felt sorry for those players who were not comfortable discussing homosexuality. His view was that there were “archaic figures” in the footballing world who would discriminate against gay players, but that he expected an out gay player in Britain in the next decade.
Praise has to go for the guys at Millwall for speaking a lot of sense. They said that they wouldn't care if another player was gay and would take the micky out of him in the same way they "pick" on other players. It's all part of the dressing room banter.
For me, it wasn't a great documentary, far too much filler, but it's always nice to see Anton Hysén. I am disappointed that a few top Premiership players were not brave enough to go on camera. It's quite pathetic actually. And the FA should have put a top person forward to be interviewed and state their position clearly. They failed badly in my opinion.
Justin's brother, John Fashanu didn't come out of it well either. I understand that his brother could have handled his coming out better, but the 80's were a world away from today's world where coming out is seen as far less of an issue for most people. John's comments were not helpful at the time and he doesn't appear to regret them too much.
It sounded to me that players who were to come out would probably have support from most colleagues, but the hassle from away fans could destroy them. Anton Hysén plays for a small team in a more liberal country and is currently just milking his celebrity (so would I) rather than concern himself with football crowds.
In all of this, let's not forget the immense skill that Justin had. This goal says it all...