Spurs’ Bale irked by ‘diving’ yellow cards

Spurs’ Bale irked by ‘diving’ yellow cards

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Spurs’ Bale irked by ‘diving’ yellow cards

Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is being criticized for diving when he receives a contact from opponents. Bale was shown three yellow cards for diving this season. AP photo

Gareth Bale says he does not deserve his reputation as a diver, despite being shown his fifth yellow card for simulation in 16 months in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 win at Sunderland on Dec. 29.

Bale was one of the outstanding players at the Stadium of Light but he was booked by referee Martin Atkinson in the 81st minute after going down under a challenge from Sunderland’s Craig Gardner. It was the third time Bale has been booked for diving this season.

“That’s the third time now I’ve been clipped and booked for no reason again,” said Bale. “There’s nothing I can do, the referees need to look a bit closer. If there’s contact, it’s a penalty or free-kick, there’s nothing I can do. If there’s contact, what do you want me to do, hit my head on the floor? I have to put my hands down to protect myself. If people kick me, I’m going to go down.”

Television replays showed that Gardner’s knee made contact with Bale’s right leg as the former Southampton player sped past him into the Sunderland area, but the Wales international went down in theatrical fashion.

Bale has been shown five yellow cards for diving since the start of the 2011-12 season.

No other player has more than two cautions for the same offense in that time, but Spurs coach Andre Villas-Boas believes Bale is being unfairly singled out.

“It was a big mistake from the referee,” he said. “I understand that reputations can sometimes be created on the outside through the media or situations on the pitch, but it’s a bit unfair.”