John Barnes defends Liam Neeson after 'black b*****d' revenge story backlash
Barnes discussed the race row surrounding Neeson during an interview on Sky News
Former England international John Barnes has defended Liam Neeson after he was accused of racism and compared to the Ku Klux Klan following a recent interview, saying the actor "deserves a medal" for opening up about his previously held beliefs.
During the controversial interview with the Independent released on Monday, the 66-year-old actor admitted that years ago he "went up and down areas with a cosh" hoping to kill a "black bastard", after being told that unnamed loved one had been sexually assaulted by a person of colour. He added that he "regretted" and was "ashamed" of feeling that way.
When asked how he felt about the reaction to Neeson's admission, Barnes appeared to surprise the Sky News anchor by defending the Northern Irish actor, saying he felt remorse over the racist attitudes he previously held and that the story had been "spun".
"I have listened to the whole transcript, Liam Neeson was talking about his film Revenge and how it doesn't do anyone any good. And he spoke about being brought up in Northern Ireland and how destructive that can be," said the former Liverpool footballer
"He went on to tell a story about a friend of his that was raped. And if you listen to everything he is talking about, he's talking about in the moment - and you can't blame Liam Neeson for thinking what he feels because this is what, and this is a while ago, society has shown him black people do, Muslims do.
"The story has been spun. What he's done is tell the truth" - Former England footballer @officialbarnesy defends Liam Neeson after the actor said he had thoughts about killing a black person after a friend was raped.
Read the latest on the story here: https://t.co/upuIiUuyPT pic.twitter.com/F4F40OYtjS
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 5, 2019
"This is what society has wrongly shown him, this is what the media has wrongly portrayed to him so in that moment - he said for a week - he was going around looking to 'kill a black person, or a black' and he did that in quotation marks.
"Now what he actually went on to say as well was that he was ashamed and horrified by the way he felt."
He added: "He's not ashamed and horrified about wanting to commit the act of revenge, he's ashamed and horrified because that is what he thought about all black people.
"Now depending on how you want to spin this story, now it's about he wants to kill a black person. That's not what I got from that. It's been spun.
"If you want to think about what he's actually saying, in the context, which is why he then said to the lady in his voice 'I have got a particular set of skills if you don't report this in the way it is meant'. Now we are talking about he threatened to kill the woman.
"What he is actually saying is he is horrified and ashamed of the way he felt."
Barnes has for years been vocal about the racism he himself has experienced, particularly in football. In November he told JOE that the only way to tackle racism in society and in football is through "education", rather than changing laws to counter it.
“It’s not just football, it’s society. Only through education, we can let people know why they feel the way they do about people of different cultures, people of different nationalities and different races. Very similar to how we’ve changed our views on women, homosexuals, in terms of what we’ve learned over the last 100 years, only through education can we make that change.”