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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Joey Barton: FA 'can't solve' English football's gambling problem

Joey Barton of Burnley reacts
Joey Barton is now a free agent after leaving Burnley.

Joey Barton has criticised the Football Association (FA) for failing to tackle the problem of gambling in football in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Barton was given an 18-month ban in April after he admitted to breaking FA rules by placing bets on 1,260 football matches, and will be 36 years old by the time he is eligible to return, something he says is now unlikely.

The midfielder, who has been released by Burnley following his ban, says the FA are not equipped to handle the widespread problems that gambling represents for professional footballers or the rehabilitation that many need to reform.

"They've given me such a harsh sentence because they want to maintain to the world, to the people who buy TV rights, that this is a very high-integrity game here," he told the Times. "People who work for betting companies have told me that's the key issue.

"The FA have no actual interest in [tackling] betting. And they can't solve the problem, especially when they've got Ladbrokes as a partner. Because the players are going, 'I'm not doing anything wrong.'"

Barton maintains that he is not the only high-profile professional footballer to gamble frequently.

"I've been in dressing rooms with players, where they've a hundred grand staked on mad stuff," he said. "On one bet. Scary. A lot bet massive figures.

"I've seen players who've played in World Cups go out on the pitch and not get anywhere near as much of a buzz from that, or scoring goals, as from betting on the horses ...

"There are many ways to beat this system. This isn't a system difficult to beat ... One thing footballers have in common is they love betting. Because they're competitors."

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