Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal (C) was at the Atletico vs. Arsenal Europa League game. In this picture, Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal looks on from the stands before the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Arsenal FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on May 3, 2018. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal said “there is something wrong with today’s society” after he was criticized for supporting Atletico Madrid during their Europa League semi-final victory over Arsenal on May 3.

The Spaniard is a self-confessed Real Madrid fan and was even honored by the fans in their stadium earlier this season. Moreover, he also professed interest in becoming the president of the 12-time European Champions in the future.

Despite his loyalty to Real, Nadal was in the stands during Atletico’s 1-0 win over Arsenal and what enraged his supporters was that he had wrapped their arch rivals’ jersey around his neck. The 31-year-old was shown on television multiple times with the red and white around his neck and it was certain to stir up a controversy.

Immediately after the match, there was uproar on social media with the picture being circulated a number of times with many questioning where his loyalties lie. Nadal did not respond immediately, but has since lashed out at critics and the media for making it a bigger issue than it is.

He made it clear he is a Real Madrid supporter, while revealing he has friends at Atletico. Since the latter were playing against an English team, he was there to support his compatriots. Nadal also defended his using of the Atletico jersey as a scarf, suggesting it was merely used to protect himself from the cold.

“Well, there is a problem with today’s society, that to be a true supporter of one team, it seems that you have to be anti another team ,” Nadal told reporters on Monday, as quoted by RT Sport.

“I just support Real Madrid. I have a lot of friends that are from Atletico. They are playing in a competition in Europe against an English team. I just went there to support Atletico Madrid. They invited me. I just wanted to enjoy the day, to see a great football match,” he added.

“At night it was a little bit chilly, a little bit cold, and I just used it as a scarf. That’s all. But it’s always the same stuff. Maybe there’s too much hypocrisy, or I would say you people in the media have to write too many things, so you have to explore some stupid things,” the 16-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion added.

Nadal returned from winning the Barcelona Open the week before and was in the Spanish capital ahead of the Madrid Masters, which began on Monday. The 10-time French Open winner is defending the title in the capital, and will begin his campaign on Wednesday against Frenchman Gail Monfils.

The Spanish tennis icon has to defend his title at the Mutua Madrid Open in order to remain the world number one. If he fails to do so, long-time rival Roger Federer, who opted to skip the entire clay court season, will take over at the top yet again.