Wilfried Zaha claims there is agenda against him as he denies diving

Wilfried Zaha has responded to being involved in another diving controversy by claiming there is an agenda against him and that people want him banned.

The Crystal Palace forward had already seen a penalty appeal turned down in the 0-0 Premier League draw at Watford yesterday when he fell under Adrian Mariappa's second-half challenge.

Replays suggested Mariappa had brought Zaha to the ground, but referee Chris Kavanagh opted to show a yellow card to the 25-year-old for simulation.

"It was definitely a penalty. I was so shocked when the ref told me it was a dive," Zaha told Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday programme.

"What was funny was after the game - even though it makes no difference - was that he (Mariappa) has actually gone: 'I'll be honest, Wilf, it was actually a pen'.

"I was happy that he admitted that, even if I got a yellow card when I shouldn't have."

Zaha has faced accusations of diving in the past and has now been booked four times for simulation since the start of the 2015-16 season.

No player has picked up more bookings for the offence in that time and it is something which clearly irks the Ivory Coast international.

Asked if he felt whether an agenda has been set that he is a diver, Zaha replied: "I feel that there totally is.

"I see other players dive, but I don't see people trying to get them banned the way they want to get me banned.

"I haven't been banned so I'm clearly not diving.

"I'll just play my football and continue the way I play. That's what I have to do."

Zaha was involved in further controversy at Vicarage Road as he had earlier tumbled in the penalty area, while he also escaped a red card for a foul on Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.

"I didn't try to claim for a penalty, but he (Christian Kabasele) has definitely pulled me and dragged me as I'm running," Zaha said of the first-half incident.

"That's made me stumble and I just happened to fall in the box. I was being called a diver then but I didn't even try to claim a penalty for that.

"With the goalkeeper, the ball's there and I've just caught him.

"I'm playing up front and I'm going to try and go for the ball.

"It's not me deliberately trying to kick the goalkeeper in the stomach, but he was clearly trying to get me sent off.

"He just hopped up after that and kicked the ball again, so he was clearly fine."

Palace's point inched them closer towards top-flight safety and Watford defender Kabasele felt it was a fair result.

"Both teams had chances to score," Kabasele told the official club website.

"We were really good in the first half and maybe in the second half we dropped a bit physically.

"But it's OK if you can't win you don't lose, and that's what we did."

- PA


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