Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas says Gareth Bale is being persecuted after he was booked for diving during a 2-1 win over Sunderland.
Bale was cautioned for simulation despite appearing to have been impeded by Craig Gardner and is now suspended from his team’s next match against Reading on Tuesday.
“It’s a big mistake from the ref,” Villas-Boas told Sky Sports.
“I understand that reputations are created from the outside – from the media – and it’s a bit unfair. If you see the images, Gardner focuses not on the ball but the player. It’s extremely unfair that he misses the Reading game for such a big mistake.
“If I’m not wrong, we had the same situation with Defoe in the first half and … it looks like persecution (against Bale).
“Players have a responsibility and we have to
take that into consideration. We want to take it out of the game. I think our game is respectful and there is fair play. But with the speed they go and then there is contact it is a difficult one for the referee. To see Gareth punished again is a little bit unfair.
“We have to let it go. We lose him for the Reading game, we just recover the boys and continue a magnificent run of form and results.”
Bale also criticised the decision to caution him for the offence, and also feels he has been unfairly targeted in recent weeks.
“It’s the same thing every time,” he said.
“It’s the third time now this season I’ve been clipped and I’ve got booked for no reason again.
“It’s just one of those things. There’s nothing I can do about it, the referees just need to look a bit closer I think. It’s not something I’m doing, it’s people thinking I’m diving where there’s actually contact, so at the end of the day if I’m getting contact it’s a penalty or a free kick so I can’t do anything about that.
“If people are kicking me I’m not going to stop going over because it’s a foul.
“It doesn’t bother me. People can keep saying what they want, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever. At the end of the day, it’s a foul and I know that myself.”
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill was left to rue his team’s costly lapse in concentration approaching the break.
“It was a tough game and we knew it would be,” he said.
“We fought so hard to get in front and then gave it away in a two-minute spell just after half-time.”