This brief column, written by Martin Samuel for the Daily Mail, is one of the most head-scratching pieces of sportswriting you will read all year. As far as we know, there's been no indication that English soccer player Joey Barton is gay. That's why Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel finds it so appealing to imagine Barton coming out as homosexual, because .... Barton's kind of a jerk?
The gay pressure group, Stonewall, has called again for football to tackle its ‘culture of fear', while Anders Lindegaard, the Manchester United goalkeeper, has said that football needs a ‘gay hero'.
So here's a thought. Joey Barton continues his quest for intellectual and social respectability. Why not come out as gay?
Instant credibility, instant respect, untouchable by the Football Association or future employers. His past misdeeds mentally reprocessed and explained.
‘Well, of course he put his cigar out in that bloke's face, Gary. He was a tortured soul, forced to live a lie.'
And imagine the new material. A never-ending treasure trove for Barton's Twitter feed: Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Lady Bunny.
There are two gags here, see. The first is that gay-rights supporters are lamenting the absence of any out soccer players, so it's funny to think of someone shutting them up by pretending to be gay even if he's not, because coming out is basically a PR move nowadays. The second is ... hey, who says Barton isn't gay? He sure is a fancyboy, inn't he? Indeed, Barton likes to present himself as a bit of a Renaissance man on Twitter, quoting the likes of Nietzsche and Wilde, which is obviously totally gay.
Then Martin wraps up with this, referring to a press conference that Barton gave in a fake French accent:
And, let's face it, with that new accent, he's probably halfway there.
Get it? Because French people are totally gay, too!