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Gareth Bale slams impact of ‘derogatory’ journalism on sports stars’ mental health

25 Mar 2022 4 minute read
Picture by Дмитрий Журавель (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gareth Bale has spoken out on the impact of “derogatory” journalism on sports stars’ mental health after Spanish paper Marca labelled him a “parasite” at Real Madrid.

The Wales and Real Madrid star who scored two goals in yesterday’s win over Austria said that the “everyday pressures on athletes is immense” in a message posted on social media.

Despite helping Real Madrid to 14 trophies, Marca accused the footballer who earns £15m a year of “sucking up the club’s money.

Gareth Bale posted a message calling Marca’s article “slanderous, derogatory and speculative”.

“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?” he asked.

“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!”


In its article, Marca depicted Gareth Bale as a mosquito and said: “The Bale parasite came from the cold and rainy Britannia.

“He settled in Spain, at Real Madrid, where, masked, he first showed diligence and love for the guest, but then his nature led him to suck blood without giving anything in return. Well, more than blood, he sucked, and sucks, the club’s euros.

“Unlike others of its kind, such as the flea, the louse or the bedbug, the Bale parasite does not cause itching or illnesses in its host, but after sucking, it laughs and makes fun of it, showing a jocular contempt for the one from whom he lives.

“He laughs, applauds, throws himself on the ground, sings, as a kind of humiliating ceremony, which, luckily, has an expiration date, like all misfortunes.”

Asked yesterday if his performance for Wales was an attempt to send his criticism a pointed message, Gareth Bale told Sky Sports: “No! I don’t need to send a message, honestly.

“I don’t need to send a message, it’s a waste of my time, it’s disgusting and they should all be ashamed of themselves. I’m not fussed, end of.”

Wales will next host the winner of Scotland’s play-off against Ukraine, with that tie postponed to at least June amid the Ukraine’s war with Russia.

“It’s fantastic, half the job done,” Gareth Bale said.

“I guess we can enjoy tonight because the game is now in June but still a very tough game against either Scotland or Ukraine.

“I had some cramp at the end which I guess is normal but I’ll run into the ground for this country and we all did that tonight.”

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