Gareth Bale: "We all know who the real parasite is"
Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale took aim at his detractors after being labelled "The Welsh parasite" by Spanish media earlier this week.
Gareth Bale took aim at the media again on Friday, responding to scathing recent coverage of him in Spain. The Wales international was the hero for his country on Thursday after scoring two excellent goals to seal a 2-1 win against Austria and put them just one win away from qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar.
However, Bale has rarely featured for Real Madrid, his club side, this season, playing in just five of their 42 matches in all competitions, totalling 270 minutes on the field – the equivalent of three whole games. One Spanish outlet labelled the winger a "parasite", also accusing him of "sucking" money out of the club.
Bale had described the criticism as "disgusting" after the victory over Austria, and he took to Twitter on Friday to further express his exasperation, saying journalists needed to be held accountable for the impact of their reports on athletes.
"The Daily Mail shining a light on this piece of slanderous, derogatory and speculative journalism by Marca," he wrote. "At a time where 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 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 people's mental and physical health."
Bale's honours with Madrid
Bale moved to the Santiago Bernabéu from Tottenham in 2013 and has won two LaLiga titles, a Copa del Rey, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups.
"The media expect superhuman performances from professional athletes, and will be the first to celebrate with them when they deliver," he continued. "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!"
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