John Barnes attended a campaign event with Boris Johnson and people aren’t happy

Darren Richman
Monday 09 December 2019 14:45
Image:(BBC / Getty)

This week Gary Neville and Graeme Souness spoke out about racism and homophobia in football, with Neville even accusing Boris Johnson of 'fuelling' racism.

But now another football icon, John Barnes, has upset fans by being photographed with the prime minister.

Johnson was on a campaign stop in Lancashire and took part in a football match for the Seashell Trust, a charity which helps children with severe learning difficulties. Barnes, a Liverpool legend who played for the club on the day of the Hillsborough Disaster, was in attendance along with two U10 girls’ teams who seemed to delight in blasting the ball at Johnson’s face.

In September 2018 Barnes managed a Tory team including Matt Hancock in a match against a group of journalists. But he publicly backed Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, so his politics are somewhat of a mystery.

Barnes is an intriguing figure: a player of immense skill who was subjected to racist abuse regularly during the 1980s. He emerged as a talismanic figure for club and country and is routinely deemed England's greatest ever left-footed player.

Many expressed their disappointment at Barnes for appearing to associate with a party traditionally at odds with the people of Liverpool.

But all might not have been as it appeared. Barnes' daughter was keen to point out that he is "not a Tory".

Barnes then addressed the matter himself, clarifying that he was not there to support Johnson or the Tory party.

More: Graeme Souness went to Brighton Pride and is finally talking sense about homophobia in football​

More: Gary Neville was asked why racism in football is rising. He pointed the finger at Boris Johnson​