Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler thinks Mohamed Salah is being criticised for diving because of his roots as a non-English player.
The two-time African Footballer of the Year has been accused of trying to con referees to win penalties in the English top-flight with ex-players like Garth Crooks and John Aldridge urging him not to earn a reputation for going to ground "too easily" like former club star Luis Suarez.
Salah was recently accused of diving to try and win a penalty after a challenge from Crystal Palace's Mamadou Sakho in an encounter that Liverpool won 4-3 last Saturday, thanks to his brace.
But Fowler who scored 183 goals across two spells for the Reds has defended the 26-year-old against the 'totally unacceptable' criticism.
“I was never one for diving — if I had a chance to get a shot off, I’d always take it,” Fowler wrote for The Mirror.
“Yet, I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief at the criticism aimed at Mohamed Salah in recent weeks for what people have been particularly eager to call cheating.
“It’s been sustained and hostile, and I’m wondering why.
“Why it’s been much worse than that aimed at Harry Kane this season, for instance, or in the past say Michael Owen or David Beckham (and I’m not singling them out!)
“We have to be very careful as football fans. We need to stop and think about whether Salah is being targeted for where he comes from and who he is.
“It seems like stereotyping, and possibly because he’s an overseas player. If that is the case, it’s totally unacceptable."
Salah is on course to retain the Premier League Golden Boot this season as he leads the scorer's chart with 16 goals from 23 matches.
He will be looking to extend the Reds' dominance at the summit of the league table when they host Leicester City for Wednesday’s fixture.