Gareth Bale is a far from popular figure in Spain. He is disliked by many Real Madrid supporters given his constant injuries in recent times and the media have never been particularly friendly with him.
The latest controversy started last Sunday when the Welshman missed Real Madrid’s 0-4 loss to Barcelona in La Liga as he had a back injury. That was already looked at with suspicion by some, but the fact he was fit to play for Wales just four days later and net a brace against Austria, has infuriated the Spanish media.
After being called “a parasite who is sucking euros out of Real Madrid” by ‘Marca’, the same newspaper said the ‘recovered’ Bale netted a brace against the Austrians, clearly questioning the veracity of his previous injury. ‘AS’ also wrote “Shame on him” or “Enough” and used a play on words with his name to make the joke.
After Wales’ victory over Austria, he called the Spanish media “disgusting” and said that it was “a waste of time” replying to them.” Less than 24 hours later, Bale took to Twitter to hit back at the criticism and also warned media outlets of the role they play on influencing public opinion. He also claimed they should be more as unfair and fierce criticism can lead to some individuals going “over the edge.”
Gareth Bale called Marca’s comments “slanderous, derogatory and speculative“. “Who is holding these journalists and the news outlets that allow them to write articles like this, accountable? Fortunately I have developed a thick skin... but that doesn’t mean articles like these don’t cause damage and upset personally and professionally to those at the receiving end of these malicious stories,” he wrote.
“The media expect superhuman performances from professional athletes.” Bale then goes to claim sportsmen are “torn to shreds” instead of supported if they fail and that they end up “encouraging anger and disappointment in their fans… Negative media attention could easily send an already stressed athlete over the edge,” he continued.
Bale goes on to hope journalism ethics are better enforced in the future before concluding with a “We all know who the real Parasite is!“, an obvious dig at ‘Marca’ and the other media outlets who are excessively critical of him.
Despite making many valid points, it is highly unlikely to go down well with the Spanish media in what look set to be Bale’s final few months in Spain.