Former Premier League star Joey Barton could come under fire for controversial comments made about major changes he thinks need to be made to women’s football.
The Fleetwood Town manager, speaking on a podcast about feminism and football, stated he thinks the women’s game is destined to lag behind the men’s game unless things like the size of the ball are altered.
This seems a strange opinion to be spouting after the remarkable rise of the women’s game in recent years, with record-breaking crowds at matches and TV audiences at home showing just how much more attention it’s getting now.
Barton may mean well, but his comments below don’t seem particularly helpful and are only likely to earn him a backlash from those involved in the women’s game and beyond.
“It’s a different sport though really, in essence – women’s football should be adjusted for women, physiologically, biologically,” he said.
“The goal sizes and the weight of the ball should be [changed].
“If we’re going to make women’s football better, as a spectator sport, to stand on its own in the marketplace, if you keep playing on the same size of pitches as men with the same size of football as men and men’s rules, you’re always going to have an inferior product – because men are bigger, stronger and faster than women.
“If you tailor it, women’s football could take a lot of strides tactically and technically – way beyond its current limitations.
“Let’s be realistic about it. The size of a football for men’s a size five, say we moved the size of a women’s football down to a size four, would anybody really notice the difference?
“No, but I guarantee you in terms of the physicality and the output, level of passes and the range of passes players some of the women players would then be able to do because the ball’s a bit smaller and the ball’s more suited to their physiological state.”