Soccer coach compares team’s poor performance to Holocaust, apologizes

No indications that Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton will be disciplined for “appalling” remark.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Bristol Rovers coach Joey Barton apologized on Thursday for a remark comparing his team’s poor play and injuries to the Holocaust.

Barton drew ire following a lackluster 3-1 home loss to Newport in a League Two match on Saturday. Talking to reporters after the game, he said, “Someone gets in and does well but then gets suspended or injured. Someone gets in for a game, does well but then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, an absolute disaster.”

Despite widespread criticism, Barton didn’t apologize for several days. Bristol City Councillor Fabian Breckels, who is Jewish, called Barton’s remarks “appalling,” rebuked the Rovers’ front office for refusing to comment, and made headlines for adding that Barton “should consider his future.”

Barton, 39, is a former Premier League midfielder who has been managing since 2018.

He apologized on Thursday.

“I’m just going to say there were some comments made after the press conference last week where clearly no offence was meant, but some people have rightly pointed out to me the use of the analogy was not correct,” Barton said.

“The [Football Association] wrote to me this week to remind us of our language and communications, and the last thing you want to do is cause offence or upset anybody. So if anybody was offended by that, I would like to apologise for that and 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.”

Asked by a reporter if he should have apologized sooner, Barton said, “I just think it’s a case of my next natural chance to speak to the press. I’m forced to speak to you every week after the games, lots of the times when I don’t really want to do it, but it’s part of the job and part of what you have to do and the responsibilities.”

British media didn’t report any signs of disciplinary action being considered. Reports said Barton plans to accompany the Rovers to Harrogate Town for a Saturday match.