Joey Barton in Marseille squad despite Twitter row

JOEY Barton was last night included in Marseille’s squad to meet Bordeaux this evening, despite the latest controversy to envelop his career.

Barton has created a stir in France after labelling Paris St Germain midfielder Thiago Silva an “overweight ladyboy” on his Twitter page.

The accusations have prompted strong condemnation from PSG as well as a prominent anti-homophobia group based in the French capital. Reports in France have also claimed that Barton has been summoned to explain his actions at a French Football Federation’s ethics committee hearing on 15 April.

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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”.

Marseille responded with a statement revealing they had demanded Barton cease his attack on Silva as well as offering an apology from both the club and player.

Despite that, Marseille appear willing to let the 30-year-old midfielder, who is on loan from QPR, remain a part of their bid to cut a seven-point gap behind Ligue 1 leaders PSG.

Coach Elie Baup yesterday said Barton remained a key part of his squad and remained true to his word when naming a 17-man list for tonight’s match at the Stade Velodrome.

Barton could even return to the starting line-up after fellow midfielder Mathieu Valbuena was yesterday ruled out for ten to 12 days with an injury.

“What is important to me is the communication from the club,” Baup said at the pre-match press conference.

“I am the coach of OM [Olympique de Marseille] and I have to intervene [only] on larger matters. The communication of individual players is their own responsibility. I have a boss and a direction. Barton holds an important place in the team and I make decisions in the game – for example, that he [Barton] did not start against Nice [last weekend]. That is my responsibility. Beyond that, it does not concern me.”

Barton’s 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.

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Silva spoke of an English Marseille player whose name he claimed to have forgotten, that had taken to criticising big-name players, including David Beckham, because nobody was talking about him.

Marseille on Wednesday said in a statement that the club and Barton were keen to apologise 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 FFF’s national ethical council.

Reports in France suggest the governing body has taken those claims seriously enough to prompt them to call Barton for a 2pm hearing in 11 days’ time.

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

Silva’s club were quick to defend their player, as PSG expressed their unhappiness with Barton’s “unacceptable remarks”.

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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.”

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 behaviour 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.