Real Madrid star Gareth Bale says he's confused about the widespread criticism regarding his love of playing golf and questions why other elite athletes escape the same judgment for hitting the links.
Bale has been a lightning rod for derision among Real supporters for his golf hobby despite playing a pivotal role in the club's four recent Champions League conquests that included a trio of goals from the Welshman in finals.
"I don't know what their reason is because I've spoken to doctors and everybody's fine with it. The media has this perception that it's not good for me, 'You should be resting, it can cause you injuries.'"
In November, Bale was pictured laughing with Wales teammates following qualification for Euro 2020 as they posed in front of a fan's banner that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order." Bale was then jeered by Real supporters during a match against Real Sociedad days later.
"I just like going out to play, thinking I've got 18 holes ahead of me," Bale admitted. "You can get away from the football, away from anything negative that's going on, and reset your mind, and the next day you feel a bit more fresh and ready to go and concentrate and feel better about football again."
Bale also wonders why he is criticized for a hobby that other athletes of his caliber enjoy.
"(Golden State Warriors star) Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of a game. If I play two days before a game, it's like 'What's he doing?'" he added.
Bale has struggled through another injury-riddled campaign but is fit again and taking part in restricted group activities at Real's Valdebebas training center as La Liga gears up for a June return.
The 30-year-old has donated over €1 million to hospitals in Wales and Spain to help with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.