Joey Barton has escaped punishment for allegedly making controversial comments about Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva.

Barton, currently on loan to Olympique de Marseille from Queens Park Rangers, took to Twitter earlier this month asking whether the Brazilian defender was “Pre-Op or Post-Op?”. He added: “Baffles me, which way he’s going. Is he a man changing to a woman or a woman changing to a man? Can’t work it out.” He went on to call Silva an “overweight ladyboy”.

His team swiftly gagged the player, ordering him to stop his online attack. Silva’s team Paris St Germain and Parisian anti-homophobia group Paris Foot Gay condemned the comments, and the Tweets were later reported to the French Football Federation’s (FFF) national ethical council.

However, on Monday (April 15th), the FFF ended its meeting on the matter without agreeing on a ruling, revealing that one reason for this was difficulty translating the “ladyboy” comment. Laurent Davenas, president of the National Ethics Commission (CNE), explained the case could not be judged in its current state. He said that if the FFF seized upon the comments, the case could yet return to the CNE.

“But first everyone will have to agree, both those accusing and the defence, on an objective translation to qualify his comments,” Mr Davenas noted. He added: “There could be problems interpreting statements made in English.” Should the comments have been made in French, the CNE would not have needed to reach an agreement on this, he claimed.

Mr Davenas did raise the point of whether Twitter is defined as a “space for public communication”. He also suggested that if the comments had been made in French, the CNE would not have had to rule on the issue of interpretation.

In a statement on its website, Paris Gay Foot said the remark was not funny but “vulgar” and “discriminatory” and should not be accepted by someone with a public profile. “To be a football idol excuses nothing and should, on the contrary, make players responsible for the impact of their remarks on the public,” it concluded.

Last year, Barton appeared in the BBC Three documentary Britain’s Gay Footballers, which was presented by Amal Fashanu. Ms Fashanu is the niece of Justin Fashanu, the UK’s only ever openly gay professional football player.

In the documentary, Barton said he was in no doubt that there would be another openly gay player within the next decade. He also claimed that some football managers discriminated against homosexual players, but that this was their mistake and demonstrated a “lack of social awareness and intelligence”.

This is not the first time football has been lost in translation. Last year, Wayne Rooney claimed that the England team felt more relaxed in the lead-up to Euro 2012 than the World Cup in 2010 because, after Roy Hodgson took on the position of manager following Fabio Capello’s resignation, the players all understood what their manager wanted. “It helps all the coaching staff being English and [that] no words are lost in translation,” he claimed.

Hodgson can also speak five languages fluently; Swedish, Italian, German, Norwegian and Danish. This is sure to be a useful skill when directing the England team on an international stage.