Paris Saint-Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is under fire after calling France a “s— country” that doesn’t deserve a team as good as PSG after their 3-2 loss to Bordeuax on Sunday.
As he was walking to the locker room after the game, the Swedish star was caught by a Canal+ camera shouting at the referee. Speaking in English, he appeared to say, “Play 15 years, I’ve never seen a referee in this s*** country. Don’t even deserve PSG to be in this country. Too good for all of you.”
He apologised after the game, saying in an Instagram post:
“Regarding my comments after tonights game; they were not against France or the French people. I spoke about football. I lost the game, I accept that, but I can’t accept when the referee doesn’t follow the rules. It’s not the first time, and I’m sick of it. My sincere apologies if anyone was offended, or took it the wrong way.”
Still, the backlash is fully on.
The LFP opened an investigation into the incident. His case will be heard on Thursday. He’ll already miss the first leg of PSG’s Champions League quarterfinal because of the red card he got in the win over Chelsea, and he could now face a domestic suspension as well.
The country’s sports minister told the AFP that the comments were “insulting.”
The story has crossed over from the sports world to the political world. Marine Le Pen, a prominent figure in the country’s right-wing National Front, said on French radio, “Those who consider that France is a s*** country can leave it.”
Le Pen’s party has an anti-immigration stance. In his autobiography, Ibrahimovic writes about growing up as the son of immigrants in Sweden.
A socialist party politician, Jerome Guedj, the told AFP, “Let him play football and shut up, or at least be respectful of this country, the football supporters who were also insulted.”
France’s Ligue 1 has long been considered a second-tier league relative to Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League. After getting bought by a Qatari group in 2011, PSG has spent vast quantities of money in an attempt to break into Europe’s elite. Ibrahimovic was one of the first players to join this new incarnation of the team.
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