English soccer coach refers to a defeat as 'holocaust,' apologizes

"Someone gets in for a game, does well but then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, an absolute disaster," said Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton.

 Bristol Rovers' manager Joey Barton (photo credit: ACTION IMAGES/MOLLY DARLINGTON)
Bristol Rovers' manager Joey Barton
(photo credit: ACTION IMAGES/MOLLY DARLINGTON)

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton apologized on Thursday for referencing the Holocaust in describing his fourth-tier club's performance last weekend.

Barton was criticized by antisemitism campaigners, and contacted by the Football Association, for the analogy after his side's 3-1 home defeat to League Two rivals Newport County on Saturday.

"Someone gets in for a game, does well but then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, an absolute disaster," the former England and Newcastle United midfielder said at the time.

The Bristol Holocaust Memorial Day Steering Group said in a statement this week that it found the comment to be "really offensive".

"To compare the poor performance of a player or team to a Holocaust shows a lack of understanding of the true barbarism, torture and evil that was inflicted on vulnerable groups in society," it added.

 Bristol Rovers' Erhun Oztumer in action with Sheffield United's Ben Osborn (credit: REUTERS/REBECCA NADEN) Bristol Rovers' Erhun Oztumer in action with Sheffield United's Ben Osborn (credit: REUTERS/REBECCA NADEN)

Speaking on Thursday, Barton apologized and told reporters the FA had written to remind him about the use of language.

He said he understood why people were upset and it would not happen again.

"The last thing you want to do is cause offense or upset anybody," he said. "So if anybody was offended by that, I would like to apologize for that.

"I think the FA were right to write to me and remind me of that. You hope to use better analogies in the future, but it was certainly with no malice or knowing offense intended to anybody."