PARIS (AP) — Marseille midfielder Joey Barton can play for the rest of the season after the French Football Federation gave him a two-game suspended ban for insulting Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva on Twitter.
The 30-year-old Englishman was summoned to appear at the FFF's ethics committee for a second time on Monday after calling Silva an "overweight ladyboy" in a series of attacks on the social network site last month, before his club ordered him to stop and apologized to both PSG and Silva.
Barton did not attend the latest hearing and was represented by two lawyers.
The ban will only come into effect if Barton uses offensive language again on Twitter and is not related to anything that might happen on the football field.
He is cleared to play in the three remaining league games this season. Marseille still has an outside chance of winning the title and trails PSG by seven points.
Barton's lawyers showed the committee a video Barton had featured in, where he spoke out in support of gay footballers on a TV documentary screened on BBC Three called 'Britain's Gay Footballers' in January 2012.
"His lawyers were scared that the commission would think he'd made homophobic remarks," said Laurent Davenas, the committee's president. "He is against homophobia. The comments he made against Thiago Silva were not homophobic."
The FFF would not rule on the matter after the first hearing last month, saying it was not possible because of a lack of an objective translation of Barton's comments.
The case prompted interest as it was the first time in France that the FFF had looked into insults made on a social network.
PSG branded Barton's comments about Silva "unacceptable" and at the time threatened to take further action if he continued his tirade.
Barton was riled by sarcastic comments Silva had made earlier, alluding to the former Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City and Newcastle player's lack of achievements in football.
"There is even a Marseille player, I cannot remember his name, an Englishman, who has said bad things about Neymar and Brazilian football, and also about (David) Beckham," Silva said in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe. "As no one is talking about him, it seems fun to him to criticize great players for people to know he exists."