Gareth Bale has issued an explosive statement on social media in response to an article published by a Spanish media outlet in which he was labelled a “parasite”.
The 32-year-old missed Real Madrid’s 4-0 El Clasico defeat to Barcelona on Sunday night but linked up with Wales for their World Cup play-off semi-final clash with Austria on Thursday night. Bale played a starring role in the contest at Cardiff City Stadium, scoring in each half as Rob Page’s men won 2-1 to progress into the play-off final.
Ahead of the international break, several Spanish media companies vented their frustrations over Bale availability for his country after he had made just two appearances for his club between November and March. Marca went a step further and branded the Welsh captain a “parasite”, even going as far as to mock up an image of the Cardiff-born ace as an insect sucking blood from the Real Madrid team emblem.
Speaking after Wales’ stunning win over Austria, Bale was asked if his celebrations were a message to his critics. He responded: “No. I don’t need to send a message, honestly. It’s a waste of my time. It’s disgusting, they should all be ashamed of themselves. I’m not fussed. End of.”
And on Friday afternoon, the Wales star issued a statement on Twitter to express his disappointment over the article published by Marca. “The Daily Mail shining a light on this piece of slanderous, derogatory and speculative journalism by Marca,” he wrote.
“At a time when people are taking their own lives because of the callousness and relentlessness of the media, I want to know, 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 during my time in the public spotlight, 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. I have witnessed the toll the media can take on peoples mental and physical health.
“The media expect superhuman performances from professional athletes, and will be the first to celebrate with them when they deliver, yet instead of commiserating with them when they show an ounce of human error, they are torn to shreds instead, encouraging anger and disappointment in their fans.
“The everyday pressures on athletes is immense, and it’s as clear as day, how negative media attention could easily send an already stressed athlete, or anybody in the public eye, over the edge. I hope that by the time our children are of an age where they are able to ingest news, that journalism ethics and standards will have been enforced more stringently.
“So I want to use my platform to encourage change in the way we publicly talk about, and criticise people, simply for the most part, not meeting the often unrealistic expectations that are projected onto them. We all know who the real parasite is!”
Wales boss Page leapt to the defence of his captain in the wake of the events that unfolded during the build-up to Wales’ incredible triumph over the Austrians.
“If he is playing football then he is happy. He’s like any footballer. He can’t influence what is being said about him over there. He can only train and if he’s not selected, he’s not selected,” he said. “When he comes away on camp with me then I am going to play him if he is fit. It’s as simple as that.
“Who doesn’t like playing for their country? Every single one of the players in the squad would walk on broken glass down the M4 to get into Wales and play for their country and he’s no different.
“And when they do that, the supporters showed their appreciation like they did last night. That’s why he is loved in Wales because he has never ever failed to deliver for the Welsh national team.”