The Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has been banned for twelve matches and fined £75,000 by the Football Association after he elbowed a player and then kicked another as he was sent off in the team's last game of the season at Manchester City.
Barton has a long disciplinary and criminal record, having been convicted of assaulting a teammate when he was a City player and subsequently jailed for attacking a teenager on a night out in his native Liverpool. The FA decision though states that the length of his ban is because "such behaviour tarnishes the image of football in this country, particularly as this match was the pinnacle of the domestic season and watched by millions around the globe."
This is the same thinking as that of the magistrate who tried to jail Eric Cantona for kicking a racist Crystal Palace fan in 1995 because she said he was a "role model". Players should be judged on their actions, not where they happened or who was watching. Barton's ban should be no longer than a player in a meaningless end of season lower division game in front of a few hundred fans would get for the same offence.