In Brief

Joey Barton betting ban raises questions about football and gambling

Burnley midfielder says his career could be over, but points finger at authorities in lengthy online statement

Joey Barton has slammed football's relationship with gambling after being "forced into early retirement" over a betting misconduct charge. 

The 34-year-old Burnley midfielder has been banned for 18 months over allegations he placed almost 1,300 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013. He has vowed to appeal against the decision.

In a lengthy statement on his website, Barton attacked the FA for its attitude.

"I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players," he said. "I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem. 

"If the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet."

The Burnley midfielder, who also played for Manchester City, Newcastle, QPR and Rangers, said there was a "huge clash" between the rules and culture of the sport, where "anyone" who "follows football on TV or in the stadia is bombarded by marketing, advertising and sponsorship by betting companies, and where much of the coverage now, on Sky for example, is intertwined with the broadcasters' own gambling interests."

His post "poses a difficult question for the football authorities and clubs", says The Guardian.

Earlier this season Sutton United sacked coach Wayne Shaw after he ate a pie during an FA Cup tie with Arsenal, knowing that a betting company sponsoring the game had offered odds on it.

"Barton, a complicated character, has served numerous FA bans for misconduct throughout his career and has also twice been convicted on charges of violence, spending 11 weeks in prison in 2008," reports the Daily Telegraph.

"But in recent years he has tried to control his temper and has become one of the game's more thoughtful critics – his near 1,500-word mea culpa to the betting charges is a good example of his more philosophical approach."

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