The English Defence League has claimed that Queens Park Rangers footballer, Joey Barton, has joined their far-right group.
A picture of Barton standing next to EDL leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has appeared on the EDL Support Group Facebook page with the caption “Joey Barton joins the EDL”.
However, Barton and the club strongly deny any links with the far right extremists. In a statement released by the club, Barton said “As a Premier League footballer it is common to pose for photographs with people you do not know, as is the case here. I had no idea who the person was. I simply agreed to his request for a photograph. I have absolutely no connection with such a group.”
Last year, a similar picture of Yaxley-Lennon standing next to glamour model, Katie Price appeared on the EDL’s Facebook page along with the claim that she also supported the group. At the time, a spokesperson for Price’s management company said “She is not and will not be associated with the English Defence League. Kate had no reason to suspect he had any connection with any group.”
Show Racism the Red Card’s Chief Executive, Ged Grebby said “The EDL is a far-right, racist organisation which claims to oppose Islamic extremism but, in practice, opposes all Muslims. The claim that Joey Barton supports them is another attempt at gaining credibility. The EDL is built on a foundation of distorted facts and this latest failed attempt at using celebrity endorsement goes to prove this.”
The full statement from Queens Park Rangers Football Club reads as follows:
Queens Park Rangers Football Club and Joey Barton categorically deny any link between the midfielder and a far-right group who are claiming his support.
A photograph of Barton posing with a member of the group has been used to suggest the player is also a member.
Barton said: “As a Premier League footballer it is common to pose for photographs with people you do not know, as is the case here.
“I had no idea who the person was. I simply agreed to his request for a photograph.
“I have absolutely no connection with such a group.”
Barton has a pre-scheduled interview next week at QPR’s training ground to help raise awareness of the continued good work of Show Racism the Red Card.
You can buy SRtRC’s educational videos, including an excellent one on Islamophobia, here.