English footballer Joey Barton lashed out with transphobic tweets aimed at Brazilian player Thiago Silva today, in the latest episode of a ‘war of words’ against the Brazil squad.

The Queens Park Rangers midfielder, currently playing for French side Olympique de Marseilles, recently insulted Silva’s teammate, Neymar, calling him the “Justin Bieber of football”.

Speaking in a press conference prior to the Barcelona versus Paris Saint Germain game on 2 April, Silva mentioned Barton’s comment about Neymar and suggested that he had said it to get attention.

“As no-one is talking about [Barton], it seems fun to him to criticise great players for people to know he exists,” said Silva.

Barton responded today by tweeting about Silva, asking why he had brought him up in the press conference before going on to make transphobic claims that Silva is a “ladyboy”.

He said: “2 questions for Thiago Silva. Firstly, Why are YOU talking about ME, in your press conference before PSG v Barca? Very strange.”

“Secondly, Are you Pre-Op or Post-Op? #transsexual #thiagosaladyboy.

“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.”

Stonewall FC criticised Barton for the remarks. The gay team posted on Twitter: “I hope you realise transphobia is just as bad as racism and homophobia – and you’re meant to be a spokesperson for it!”

Barton is known as an advocate for gay rights, and for supporting the possibility of gay footballers being open about their sexuality in future.

In 2012 he said footballers are put off coming out of the closet because managers would discriminate against them, telling an interviewer: “These archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer there would be all kinds of shenanigans in the dressing room”.

When a Daily Mail column suggested that Barton, who is married with a child, should come out and become football’s “gay hero”, Barton threatened legal action against what he called a “bigoted and homophobic” article.

This week Brighton and Hove Supporters Club and the Gay Football Supporters’ Network filed a complaint to the Football Association, saying that Brighton fans were on the receiving end of homophobic abuse at 57% of matches.