Rangers calling out homophobia and misogyny makes all the difference after Joey Barton's comments, writes HEATHER DEWAR... women need male allies to stand alongside them


Like many others, I have looked on in disgust as Joey Barton has continued to spew a torrent of abuse towards female footballers on social media.

It would be tempting to refuse to give the guy any more ‘oxygen’. To say: ‘He’s not worth it, he’s doing it for the clicks’, or to think that he is simply deluded.

But, to be honest, his words have gone far enough. His bile is becoming dangerous. It has the potential to have a huge effect on the mental wellbeing of athletes and to enable those who are already on the cusp of sexist and misogynistic behaviour to take the next step.

He was reacting to Scotland international and Rangers captain Nicola Docherty saying: ‘Couldn’t help but notice the Tweets from an older man regarding this great young goalkeeper who is inspiring the next generation. Keep doing what you are doing! If women’s football isn’t for you, change the channel, it isn’t hard.’

I have been disgusted as Joey Barton has continued to spew a torrent of abuse towards female footballers

I have been disgusted as Joey Barton has continued to spew a torrent of abuse towards female footballers 

Partick Thistle goalkeeper Ava Easdon, 17, became the focus of Joey Barton's ire after a mistake

Partick Thistle goalkeeper Ava Easdon, 17, became the focus of Joey Barton’s ire after a mistake

Barton's tweet mocked Easdon and suggested the SWPL Cup final shouldn't be on television

Barton’s tweet mocked Easdon and suggested the SWPL Cup final shouldn’t be on television

Barton, who had also come under fire from the teenager’s father, retorted: ‘Come on Nicola. One Tweet about a clip. She’s had more publicity about this than she or her dad deserves based on their actual ability. 

‘It shouldn’t be on a paid subscription channel because it’s sub-standard quality to most football. Ran the ‘bullying’ headlines and father a ‘kickboxing champion’. Will youse behave and put those victim, girl power cards away. They don’t work on people with a brain. 

‘Lesbo-ball will never be as big as men’s football no matter how much you virtue signal. Ya too slow and ya not going to change that. It’s called biological evolution. Have a great day. Don’t be a victim.’

There are so many repellent things in this one message alone, that I almost don’t know where to begin. So let’s deconstruct it a little bit, shall we?

To be clear, Ava Easdon and her dad never wanted the kind of publicity they have recently accrued. Why would they? I understand that neither Ava nor her father have spoken to anyone in the media since Barton’s comments appeared. Ava’s father, Lex, made a statement on X, but he did not go to the papers.

Then there’s this bit: ‘Will youse behave and put those victim, girl power cards away. They don’t work on people with a brain.’

I’m sorry — behave yourself? What, like, be a good girl? Run along now and stop defending your rights as a woman? Or those of another human being whom you admire and respect? You’re talking to the hand, Joey.

Docherty has battled hard in the women’s game for years and is an extremely well-respected player who has multiple caps to her name.

Easdon has been one of the standout players for Partick this season despite being just 17

Easdon has been one of the standout players for Partick this season despite being just 17

Rangers captain Nicola Docherty leapt to Easdon's defence and incurred Barton's wrath as a result

Rangers captain Nicola Docherty leapt to Easdon’s defence and incurred Barton’s wrath as a result

Barton told Docherty to 'behave' and 'put those victim, girl power cards away' - and branded women's football 'lesbo-ball'

Barton told Docherty to ‘behave’ and ‘put those victim, girl power cards away’ – and branded women’s football ‘lesbo-ball’

Telling Docherty and her fellow players to effectively ‘pipe down’ will never, ever work. They’ve fought too hard, been around too long, and had to put up with so much inequality that standing down is not an option.

As for the nonsense that ‘girl power cards’ don’t ‘work on people with a brain’. Really? Try telling that to the millions of women AND men around the world who have seen the #METOO movement force change and gender balance across the globe in multiple industries. To those who have fought for years to see women’s sport recognised and to see it now flourishing.

That Barton goes on to term women’s football ‘lesbo-ball’ says all we need to know about him and his feelings towards the game. 

In this hugely sweeping statement, he not only manages to patronise women’s football, he appears to put a negative slant on lesbianism — treating both with contempt.

Importantly, Rangers, one of Barton’s former clubs, made their feelings known.

In a statement, they said: ‘Rangers FC has been made aware of discriminatory and misogynistic comments regarding the women’s game following Sunday’s Sky Sports Cup Final.

‘As a club, we stand together against these homophobic and disgraceful slurs in the strongest possible terms.

‘We are unwavering in our desire to further the women’s game across the country which goes from strength to strength and will support all players in challenging those who hold extremely outdated and foul views of women’s football.’

Docherty's club, Rangers, who beat Partick Thistle in the SWPL Cup final, have now condemned the 'homophobic' and 'misogynistic' comments made by Barton

Docherty’s club, Rangers, who beat Partick Thistle in the SWPL Cup final, have now condemned the ‘homophobic’ and ‘misogynistic’ comments made by Barton

Scotland captain Rachel Corsie said social media criticism on Easdon was 'horrible' and amounted to 'bullying'

Scotland captain Rachel Corsie said social media criticism on Easdon was ‘horrible’ and amounted to ‘bullying’

Scotland boss Pedro Martinez Losa wants a support network set up to help players deal with online criticism

Scotland boss Pedro Martinez Losa wants a support network set up to help players deal with online criticism

This was significant. In my mind, more organisations should now be doing likewise. We talk often about the need for ‘male allies’ when it comes to women in sport — and many are already taking this in hand. 

Yes, it’s hard sometimes to rise above the parapet and put yourself in the firing line of knuckle-dragging sexists, to say ‘enough is enough’ and to show the courage of one’s convictions when it comes to stamping out online abuse on social media. But isn’t it about time that more clubs, football authorities and campaign groups did so?

This is not just about one female goalkeeper. Or one player who stands up for another. 

This is about putting an end to the enablers. To stopping sexism, homophobia and misogyny in its tracks. To protecting the mental health of those who are abused just because of the job or sport they happen to take part in.

The idea that not giving ‘oxygen’ to the likes of Joey Barton will somehow prevent them from continuing their mad tirades has already been proven not to work. He has over two million followers on X. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

By not speaking out and condemning these behaviours, we are surely just as guilty of allowing them to flourish unabated? Simply put, there’s no time like the present. It’s incumbent on all of us to act, before this situation escalates even further.



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