The diving debate surrounding Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is considered to be “totally unacceptable” and “hostile”, with Robbie Fowler suggesting that the Egyptian is being singled out as an “overseas player”.
Decisions have gone for and against him when taking a tumble, with Liverpool benefiting from penalty calls.
Fowler believes Salah has had every right to hit the deck when touched, with players at other clubs – such as Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba – proving that referees only act when they are made aware of obvious contact.
The Reds legend wrote in The Mirror: “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.”
Fowler added: “Yes, there have been times when Salah has gone over a bit theatrically, sometimes he may have gone down a bit easily.
“Two things. One, who doesn’t now? Two, he’s almost always been kicked.
“In fact, he has been kicked mercilessly for 18 months. And if he doesn’t go down in a way which lets the ref see he’s been kicked, then will he get the decision? No chance.
“Watching the Arsenal-Manchester United game on Friday, Paul Pogba went through early, got hacked from behind, but didn’t go down and then lost the ball. No free-kick.
“Soon after, goes through again, gets pulled back slightly. What does he do? Of course, he goes down, because otherwise he knows if he tries to get a shot off and fails, he gets nothing again. It is not as simple as people are making out.
“If Salah were this massive cheat people seem to be trying to portray him as, why was the penalty he converted against Newcastle at the end of December the first awarded for Liverpool at Anfield in 18 months?
“In that time, he’s scored almost 50 league goals, and not one until this past Boxing Day was a penalty in a home game.”
Fowler is not the first to offer his support to Salah in the simulation row, but the likes of John Aldridge – another Liverpool icon – have warned the 26-year-old that he risks earning an unwanted reputation if the theatrics continue.