QPR captain Joey Barton — no stranger to the CSTB police blotter before he was snapped up by my favorite club in his youth, spoke at the Professional Players Federation conference earlier today, and for those familiar with with the shy, retiring Barton’s brand of free expression, the speech didn’t disappoint.  On the subject of the England squad making headlines for all the wrong reasons at the recent RUFC World Cup, Barton opined, “”If that was an England football team at a World Cup, there would probably have been public executions when they got home.”  From the Guardian and The Press Association :

“‘Football’s a gentleman’s game played by thugs’, I hear quite a lot, and, ‘rugby’s a thug’s game played by gentlemen.’ The minute a footballer steps out of line, I think the media in this country – because of the sums of money they earn and also because of the stigma attached – are really quick to jump on it.”

Barton also took issue with footballers’ status as role models. “There is a lot of envy about what footballers earn, the astronomical figures,” he said. “That’s not our fault. I went from being on £300 a week playing in a big league to £6,500 a week.

“No one taught me how to handle that, no one taught me how to be a man, I didn’t instantly get that wage increase and become a role model. I was still the same kid from a working-class council estate.”