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‘Far too much has been made of Bale flag incident’ - Giggs defends Wales star

3:45 AM EST 12/1/19
Gareth Bale golf swing Wales 2016
The Real Madrid forward has been criticised for showing a lack of respect for his club following his celebrations upon qualifying for Euro 2020

Wales manager Ryan Giggs has defended Gareth Bale after the Real Madrid winger posed with a flag which read: "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order."

The controversial incident occurred after Wales booked their place at Euro 2020 after beating Hungary in Cardiff in November.

Bale was filmed celebrating with the flag, having already admitted that he was amused by chants of "Wales. Golf. Madrid." from the stands during the match.

The scene was not well received back in Spain, where Bale was booed and whistled by Madrid fans when he came on as a substitute against Real Sociedad just days later.

But speaking after Wales learned their Euro 2020 group stage fate, manager Giggs played down the situation and defended the forward.

“I don't know if Gareth had anything to do with it, obviously he was stood there, but I think far too much has been made of it,” said the former Manchester United winger.

“It was a special night for Gareth. He put in a shift in what was his second game in three days. He had not been playing, so that's down to his fitness and professionalism.”

Bale has been constantly criticised in Spain for his apparent priority for international football over club football, with Giggs adding that the player’s situation is not ideal.

“All my players I want playing, it's as simple as that, so when they come on camp you don't have to catch up with fitness,” said Giggs.

“You don't have to worry about bringing them on or off after 60 or 70 minutes.

“Where they play doesn't matter to me. As long as they are playing at good clubs and obviously Gareth is at one of the biggest in the world.

“It's been the case at the last few camps that he's not played [at club level] but he's done brilliantly for us because of his ability, fitness and passion. He could do it, but it wasn't ideal.

“I want my players turning up match fit and that includes Gareth.”

Bale scored crucial goals for his country against Croatia and Azerbaijan to help clinch second place in Euro 2020 qualifying Group G to secure a spot at next summer’s tournament. There they will face Italy, Switzerland and Turkey following Saturday's group stage draw.