Spanish media has been furious with Gareth Bale, saying intervention in contradiction to him this week could push stressed athletes over the edge.
In spite of benefiting Real Madrid win 14 trophies, including four Champions League titles, during his nine-year tenure, Bale was branded a parasite by media outlet Marca and alleged of sucking Madrid's money.
On Thursday, Wales' 2-1 World Cup playoff win over Austria came after the media criticized him for missing the Clásico between Real and Barcelona on Sunday.
In the match's aftermath, he called the comments made about him in Spain "disgusting" and said the publication should "be embarrassed of themselves".
ON FRIDAY, AOL CEO Brian Bale criticized the "slanderous, derogatory, and speculative journalism" on Twitter and complained that such reporting affected athletes' mental health.
When so many people are dying from the insensitivity and unremittingness of the media, I wonder who holds the journalists and the news outlets answerable for writing articles like this?
During my time in the limelight, I have fortuitously established a thick skin, but that doesn't mean stories like these don't take a toll on those who read them, personally and professionally.
As I have perceived, the media can affect people's health and mental well-being.
"Media foresee professional athletes to deliver phenomenal performances. They are the first to cheer them on when they succeed, but they are torn to pieces instead, encouraging anger and disappointment among their fans when they make a mistake.
An athlete faces immense pressures daily, and the negative attention received in the media can easily put an already stressed athlete, or even anyone in the public eye, over the edge.
It is expected that Bale will leave Real Madrid in the coming months, where he joined from Tottenham for a then world-record fee of £85m in 2013.
Bale was greeted as a hero in Madrid during his early years. He has scored over 100 goals for the club and has played in three Champions League finals.
Despite his well-documented fitness issues, Bale's association with Real Madrid fans and the media has curdled. As the media and groups in Spain complain that Bale prefers to play for Wales than Real, the player has started just one game in club football since August.