Joey Barton: I don’t know if a football player will come out soon

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Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton says he doesn’t know whether a football player would feel safe enough to come out as gay.

The 32-year-old has backed Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign – in which laces are sent to every premiership footballer and professional club – for two years in a row.

When asked whether he expected a player to come out soon, he told the Metro: “I don’t know is the honest answer, but I certainly feel that the campaign has made positive strides so that a player would be comfortable coming out.

“Providing we can keep moving forward, raising awareness and breaking down old stereotypes, then I think the campaign will have been another success.

“Everyone knows there is an issue in football.

“The stats say that there must be homosexual players across our professional game and the lads supporting the campaign are breaking barriers down so that people can feel comfortable enough to come out in the sport and kick out homophobia in football.”

The player earlier this year led QPR in their commitment to the “Football V Homophobia” campaign, and said last year: “The bureaucrats have been guilty of not taking a tough enough stance to make this issue go away”.

However, he was rebuked last year after sending tweets to Brazilian player Thiago Silva calling him a “transsexual ladyboy”.

He wrote:  “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”