x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Joey Barton makes waves in France

I was surprised to hear hacks at Le Parisien have voluntarily coined a new verb with obvious anglophone roots: "Bartoniser."

Marseille's British midfielder Joey Barton, right.
Marseille's British midfielder Joey Barton, right.

The French have always been extremely protective of their language, particularly against the ceaseless tide of anglicisation.

Their radio stations are legally obliged to ensure that at least 40 per cent of tracks broadcast are by French artists. If you have ever heard French pop, you'll understand what a sacrifice this is.

So I was surprised to hear hacks at Le Parisien, have voluntarily coined a new verb with obvious anglophone roots: "Bartoniser."

Je Bartonise, tu Bartonises, il/elle/on Bartonise, etc.

Named after Marseille's on-loan English midfielder Joey Barton, it means "to get away with a bad foul".

The honour was bestowed after Barton's debut for L'OM, in which he was booked for a stamp on Lille's Florent Balmont - a foul which some say deserved a straight red card.

The implication is clear: French football is such a bastion of cultured play and sportsmanship that it was unaware of foul play, or at least getting away with foul play, before the arrival of a thug like Barton, who brought it to their shores.

This argument is not without its merit. Two famous examples of French thuggery - Eric Cantona's flying kung-fu kick and Zinedine Zidane's World Cup butt - were never likely to escape the referee's attention.

But sneaky cheating of the less violent kind? Cast your minds back to November 2009, and a crucial World Cup qualifying match between Ireland and France.

Was it not one Thierry Henry who cruelly eliminated Ireland with a "goal" scored after a blatant and intentional handball? I wonder if there is a new Gaelic verb for that? To "Thierrorise" a defence, perhaps?

sports@thenational.ae