MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane asked supporters to start backing Gareth Bale and move on from the club versus country row which led to the Wales forward being treated to a cacophony of boos in his side’s 3-1 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Bale’s commitment to the 13-times European champions has come under the microscope this week after he helped his nation qualify for Euro 2020 and then joined his team mates dancing alongside a banner saying ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order’.
The 100 million euro ($110.22 million) forward was fiercely criticised in the Spanish media for the celebration and Real fans also turned on him when he came off the bench in the second half of the Liga game against Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“There is too much noise with Bale, he wants to be here and do as well as he can, that’s why we don’t want to talk too much about this. He is integrated into the group and he wants to play well, just like everyone else,” Zidane said.
“I hope this doesn’t continue throughout the season. We want the fans to be with us from the start of the game to the end but we can’t control this. The fans have the right to do what they want but I ask them to support everyone.”
Real had fallen behind to a Willian Jose strike in the second minute but Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde struck either side of halftime to put the hosts in front, although the mood in the stands changed when Bale came off the bench.
He produced an admirable display in the conditions, however, helping to set up Luka Modric’s goal which wrapped up the points for Zidane’s side, while he nearly scored in stoppage time.
The 30-year-old Bale’s efforts led to a smattering of applause from sections of the crowd and Zidane said he wished everyone could turn a page.
“Real Madrid supporters have booed all of the very best players and Bale put in a good display when he came on. He just needs to focus on working hard on the pitch,” added the French coach.
“It’s not about whether I understand the boos or not, we need our fans on our side and so does Gareth, just like every other player.
“If that happens we can move on from this. We want the fans to applaud him, like they did after the goal.”
($1 = 0.9073 euros)
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris