|Was Bradley Johnson play acting? Joey Barton faced a tough battle with the FA regardless [GALLO/GETTY]
Football officials and FA committee members claim to treat footballers equally, but we all know they do not.
Humans are far too judgemental and bias to make impartial decisions.
Remember back at school when you really wanted a gold star. You didn’t want a gold star every lesson (that made you a geek) but one would be nice. Remember how sad you were when the gold star was always given to the teacher’s pet...Well life, and football, is a bit like that.
From the classroom to the football pitch, you are more likely to get a gold star if you act like the teacher’s pet i.e. smile, work hard, be nice and avoid controversy.
"From the classroom to the football pitch, you are more likely to get a gold star if you act like the teacher’s pet i.e. smile, work hard, be nice and avoid controversy"
One English footballer who needs to learn more about the science of gold stars is Joey Barton.
For those yet to follow Joey 7Barton, he is an aggressive QPR midfielder with far too much to say on social networking site Twitter.
Barton is destined to end his career with a pitiful number of gold stars because of his need to tweet about things he shouldn’t.
In his Newcastle days he crossed the line when he started tweeting about contract negotiations. The breach in confidentiality meant Barton was handed a free transfer by manager Alan Pardew and ended up at newly promoted QPR.
With a chequered history and an insatiable habite de tweet, top managers such as Alex Ferguson would think twice before adding such a troublesome player to the squad. The England team? Barton does have the talent but would be a risk for any England manager to take on.
Barton’s tweets over the last week have proved how little he cares what the authorities, or those with the power to change his career, think of him.
On Monday, Barton received a red card for appearing to head butt Bradley Johnson during QPR's clash with Norwich. While video footage backs up Barton's claims he did not head butt his opponent, the mouthy midfielder did everything in his power to ensure the FA rejected QPR's appeal.
Through Twitter, Barton insulted the officials by claiming "they never saw it", insulted the FA by criticising a decision they made a week before and then considered suing "absolute no mark" Johnson for play acting.
The FA’s immediate rejection was not surprising (remember the teacher’s pet story) but the naivety of QPR boss Neil Warnock was. He called the decision "farcical" saying, "At the moment I just don't see where the disciplinary commission are going."
Well - isn’t it obvious - they are going against players like Barton.
They are coming down hard on players who show a lack of respect and respond to their rulings on Twitter questioning the "expert panel" and offering sympathy for a group "who have never played yet set the rules".
Who knows what is going through Barton’s head when he tweets things like this... maybe he just wants to be heard.
The problem for Barton is, he is.
| While Barton's mistakes are rarely missed those of Lampard quite often are [GALLO/GETTY]
He is being heard by gold star givers both on and off the pitch, by influential figures who will not forget his petulant outbursts.
Surely a good piece of advice for a footballer is to play football and keep your mouth shut.
If you are quiet and respectful, you may be in line for a gold star.
If you are outspoken and surly, you will get a red card regardless of whether you deserve it.
A prime example of how reputation affects the way officials respond on the pitch was seen during Tuesday’s clash between Chelsea and Wolves.
Even Frank Lampard admitted that Frank Lampard’s horrific tackle on Adam Hammill deserved a red card. However, the polite and well spoken England player got away with a yellow because he apologised, and ultimately, because the ref liked him.
If Joey Barton had pulled the same stunt...well, no prizes for what coloured card it would be.
Looking for enemies is the sort of behaviour one expects from Barton’s hero - singer Morrissey. Luckily for Morrissey, he ended up in The Smiths and didn’t need to worry about sweet FA. Barton must remember he is a footballer not a cult lyricist.
As he continues tweeting on issues that should be settled behind closed doors, Barton is makes himself an easy target. In the last few hours Barton collected his one millionth Twitter follower, and while this is impressive most people do not follow him because he is enlightening or has opinions different to anyone else.
We follow him because we want to be there when one of his tweets lands him in trouble.
With every misplaced and ill-timed tweet Barton’s followers increase (yes, well done lad), but so do his enemies in the game.
If a day ever comes, when all Joey Barton wants is a gold star, he might need to get out the cardboard and start cutting.
Joanna Tilley is a freelance journalist working with Al Jazeera on the Sport website. She has worked at Sky News, Sky Sports News, LBC Radio, Sportasylum.com, TNT Down Under and Wanderlust magazine. Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or on her website, mythoughtonsport.blogspot.com.
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