Reacting to Bristol Rovers’ loss to Newport County, Mr Barton said: “I said to the lads during the week, you know, the team’s almost like musical chairs, you know. Someone gets in and does well, but then gets suspended. Someone gets in and does well, gets injured. Someone gets in, does well for a game and then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, you know, an absolute disaster.”
Mr Barton has now issued an apology, stating: “Clearly no offence was meant, but some people have rightly pointed out to me the use of the analogy was not correct. So if anybody was offended by that, I would like to apologise for that. I think the FA were right to write to me and remind me of that. You hope to use better analogies in future, but it was certainly with no malice or offence intended to anybody.”
He added: “It’s our duty to be word perfect and not create controversy. I get that everything we say, even this I’m saying now will no doubt be pieced together in such a way that it will be there to grab and capture the attention of people that use social media, the internet. For me, it was a poor analogy to use in the context of the modern-day world we live in, and it won’t happen again.”
This is not the first time a Holocaust reference has been made in the context of describing a poor performance.
In 2019, football pundit and former footballer, Perry Groves, apologised after reportedly describing a player as having “a Holocaust of a game” on a live radio show. One year earlier, Phil Brown, the football player turned manager, apologised for using the same phrase.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Trivial comparisons to the Holocaust, the systematic murder of six million Jewish men, women and children, are never acceptable. Joey Barton is right to apologise, but it remains remarkable that he and others too often feel it appropriate to make such thoughtless comments in the first place. Mr Barton would do well to consider undertaking Holocaust education and using his platform to encourage others to do so to better understand the impact of his words.”