In Depth

Joey Barton reined in after calling Thiago Silva a 'ladyboy'

PSG threatens legal action after British midfielder takes to Twitter to question Brazilian's 'gender'

JOEY BARTON has apologised for describing Thiago Silva as "a ladyboy" on Twitter after Paris Saint-Germain threatened legal action against the Marseille midfielder.

The unseemly spat began earlier in the week when Silva, to use the street vernacular, 'dissed' Barton in an interview with L'Equipe. "There is a Marseille player, I cannot remember his name, an Englishman, who has said bad things about Neymar and Brazilian football, and also about [David] Beckham and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic," said Silva, himself a Brazilian. "Because no one is talking about him, it seems it is fun for him to criticise great players for people to know he exists."

Barton was put out by the put-down, and took his revenge on Twitter on Tuesday night when Silva played for PSG against Barcelona in the Champions League. "Thiago Silva," blasted Barton in the build-up to the quarter-final clash: "That the same pussy that's been injured all season. Another over-rated Brazilian. Sort your hamstrings out FatBoy."

Unfortunately for the Lippy Liverpudlian, on loan at Marseille from QPR, Silva played a blinder, prompting Barton to concede: "Have to take back what I said about Thiago Silva being over rated today. Been immense tonight. Still looks like a overweight ladyboy though!"

If the Englishman had let it lie there and then, Silva might not have taken umbrage but as is so often the way with Barton he couldn't walk away. "2 questions for Thiago Silva," he tweeted. "Firstly, Why are YOU talking about ME, in your press conference before PSG v Barca? Very strange."

But it was the second question that peeved PSG, and probably Silva. Asked Barton: "Are you Pre-Op or Post-Op? #transsexual #thiagosaladyboy"

Just to make sure his two million plus followers got the drift, Barton added as his final word on the subject: "Baffles me, which way he's going. Is he a man changing to a woman or a woman changing to a man? Can't work it out."

Once the dust had settled on their dramatic 2-2 draw with Barcelona, PSG responded to Barton's comments with a message of their own on their official website. "On social media networks today, Olympique de Marseille player Joey Barton launched an entirely unacceptable attack on Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva," ran the press release. "These attacks represent a serious incident and go much further than a mere verbal insult. Thiago Silva and Paris St Germain reserve the right to take any action they deem necessary."

The threat has drawn the sting from Barton's tweets with Marseille replying to PSG's statement with one of their own on Wednesday evening. Apologising for Barton's "inappropriate" remarks about Silva, Marseille added: "'The management have asked Joey Barton to put an end to the controversy against the Brazilian defender of PSG, and the midfielder has pledged to immediately cease the posting of any derogatory comments."

Barton has been as good as his word, tweeting no more about Silva but turning his ire on Sir Norman Bettison, the former chief constable of West Yorkshire police accused of 'discreditable conduct' in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

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