For six years, I defended and championed Gareth Bale. Since he has occupied jersey number 11, he has won 14 titles, netted over 100 goals and dished out over 50 assists. The truly scary thought is how much more he would have accomplished if he had a cleaner bill of health. With that being said, the mysterious absence of the 30-year-old Welsh forward after the international break has been downright infuriating and scandalous.
On Sunday October 13th I observed Gareth galloping across the field in a crucial Euro 2020 qualifying home game against Croatia. He scored a goal to bring the game back to level, was active in offense and trekked back to defend when Croatia threatened. With less than 10 minutes to go he laboured noticeably but remained on the field. In a Sky Sports postgame interview, Wales Manager Ryan Giggs spoke of Bale’s fitness, “Gareth’s just got a bit of cramp towards the end. He didn’t want to come off, though.” If this truly was the case, this should be no more than a couple of days for recuperation.
On Tuesday October 15th, the club released a medical report on Luka Modric’s injury from that same game against Wales, but none was released on Gareth Bale. As the week progressed, there was no sign of the Welshman at Valdebebas. When the club announced the roster for the Saturday game at Mallorca, Gareth Bale was left off. As much as I did not like this decision, I understood the precaution. There is a must-win game against Galatasaray in Istanbul three days later to maintain control of our destiny to qualify for the Champions League round-of-16, and it was necessary to have our second-best veteran forward as healthy as possible to be the most effective in helping the team secure three points.
This past Sunday brought the bombshell: Gareth Bale once again was left off the roster for the critical group game against Galatasaray. Once more, no medical report nor official statement by Zinedine Zidane or the Club followed suit. At this point, I considered this omission flagrant. Since no official communication was forthcoming, the best moment for the absence of Gareth Bale to be brought up was during Monday’s press conference with Zinedine Zidane. Since the press has been obsessed with subjectively attacking Gareth ever since he came from Tottenham, I figured this mysterious absence would surely be questioned. I sat in my office’s conference room to watch the live feed on my phone, waiting anxiously for the question. After 13 minutes, it ended, and not a SINGLE question was asked about Gareth Bale’s absence.
Why is there a hush mentality? Gareth Bale is a veteran pillar to this team, and next to Karim Benzema, the best scorer. Why on earth would he be kept out of the most important game in Champions League? If he is injured, why has no medical report been released yet? If it is a technical decision to keep him out of Istanbul, why hasn’t Zinedine Zidane stated publicly this decision with reasons? Madridistas deserve answers. This silence by all parties only leads to more conspiracy theories. Where is Gareth Bale? The team needs him, especially in the Champions League.
Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)