Since their rise to prominence, both Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez have gained a somewhat dubious reputation.
Bale has recently come under fire after appearing to dive in several different incidents, while Suarez has been in the news constantly for one reason or another.
Many of the incidents that first gave these players their current reputation happened in the past. Suarez, before he even kicked a ball for Liverpool, handled on the line in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in a game featuring Uruguay and Ghana.
Even though he received a red card the incident effectively sent Uruguay to the next round. That didn't exactly go down well with the fans, many of whom were rooting for Ghana.
Gareth Bale has been accused of diving ever since he became a world-beater on the left wing for Spurs.
Whether both of these players have acted in a way that has justified their 'cheat' tags or not, both certainly get heckled by opposition fans even when they've done nothing wrong - and even the referee’s seem to take this reputation into consideration when making decisions in games.
We only have to look at the example of Bale against Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light after Christmas - clear contact on the knee that would send anyone over at that speed. Bale, however, got booked and a free kick was awarded to Sunderland. His reputation clearly preceded him here. If Steven Fletcher was subject to the same challenge in the opposite penalty box, he may well have got the penalty it deserved.
These incidents have led fans to take to social media websites, voicing their opinions liberally labelling the superstar a cheat. Surely everyone saw there was contact, just as there was in the incidents where he was booked against Fulham and Liverpool.
Maybe if Bale had stayed on his feet earlier on in his career, some of these decisions may not have gone against him.
He has that reputation though, and now Premier League officials just seem to assume Bale dives every time he goes down, which by anyone’s standards is unfair.
If Jordan Henderson had made the handball in Liverpool's third-round cup-tie against Mansfield, there surely wouldn't have been as tremendous an uproar about the incident as greeted Suarez after the game.
Overall, it's clear that both Bale and Suarez have been targeted recently due to who they are.
With diving a hot topic recently it appears the debate will continue shown by the reaction to Jay Rodriguez’s dive on Saturday against Aston Villa.
This may come from supporters of rival teams or the media pumping up the issue but, referees should be objective, impartial and treat every incident separately, but in truth, this doesn't happen.
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