The Football Association (FA) has refused to cancel Gareth Bale's latest yellow card for an assumed dive despite fuming suggestions from Tottenham that their winger is being persecuted by referees.
Bale will now miss Tuesday's match against Reading for what was his fifth caution of the season, even though three of those bookings have come in the last five games for highly contentious incidents of supposed simulation, the Telegraph reports.
The issue of diving has been placed at the forefront of referees' minds this season following high-profile incidents involving Luis Suarez and Santi Cazorla, and there is a clear sense at Tottenham that Bale is being punished for his reputation rather than the reality of recent incidents, the paper added.
On Saturday, Bale went down under a challenge from Sunderland's Craig Gardner when there had clearly been contact but was still cautioned by referee Martin Atkinson, it said.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, claimed that Bale's treatment looks like persecution and the Wales winger also took the unusual step of speaking out on the issue himself after the game, the paper further reported.
The FA, however, has ruled that this latest booking cannot be rescinded as it was an incident that was dealt with during the game by the referee, it said.
Although the disciplinary code could be changed at the end of the season to review incidents such as Bale's booking and also unpunished dives, the current policy is that retrospective action can relate only to off-the-ball incidents that were missed by all the match officials or cases of mistaken identity, the paper added. (ANI)