Everton FC has banned The Sun after a columnist compared one of its players to a gorilla

Shona Ghosh
Everton FC Ross Barkley

Reuters


Everton FC has banned journalists from The Sun newspaper from reporting on matches at its Goodison Park grounds, after columnist Kelvin MacKenzie compared mixed race club player Ross Barkley to "a gorilla".

The club sent out a statement today which read:

Yesterday Everton Football Club informed The Sun newspaper it was banned from Goodison Park, the USM Finch Farm training ground and all areas of the club's operation. Whilst we will not dignify any journalist with a response to appalling and indefensible allegations, the newspaper has to know that any attack on [Liverpool], either against a much respected community or individual, is not acceptable.

The statement comes after The Sun suspended MacKenzie for his column, in which he also disparaged Liverpool, where Everton plays.

MacKenzie wrote that midfielder Barkley was punched in a nightclub because, he suggested, the player was like an animal in a zoo.

He wrote: "Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers. There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.

"I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it's the eyes that tell the story."

Barkley has a grandfather who was born in Nigeria, and Merseyside Police are investigating whether MacKenzie's column consitutes a "racial hate crime."

He also suggested that the only other people who earned as much as Barkley in Liverpool were drug dealers.

The Sun described these comments as "unfunny", when it announced his suspension on Friday. It has said MacKenzie was unaware of Barkley's racial heritage.

The Sun and MacKenzie already have a poor relationship with Liverpool and Everton's rival club, Liverpool FC, over their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

Under MacKenzie's editorship, The Sun ran a front page story claiming that the 96 fans who died during the incident were drunk. The fans were cleared in an inquest last year. Liverpool FC banned The Sun from reporting from matches in February, and the city widely boycotts the newspaper.

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