Calls mounted Monday for action against Paris Saint-Germain’s temperamental star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic over comments he made about his host country which one French minister called “insulting”.
Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said that Ibrahimovic, who apologised within hours of his outburst after Paris lost 3-2 at Bordeaux, should leave France
The Swedish striker, who was controversially sent off in the Champions League game against Chelsea last week, had scored twice to twice level the game.
But he stormed off the pitch and said in front of television cameras: “In 15 years, I have never seen such a referee. In this shit country, this country does not deserve PSG. We are too good for this country.”
The 33-year-old Swedish international backed down after France’s Sports Minister Patrick Jenner called the remarks “insulting.” Jenner later welcomed Ibrahimovic’s apology however.
“I would like to apologise if anyone felt offended. I want to make it clear that my remarks were not directed at France or the French. I was talking about football, I lost the match and I accept that but I don’t accept when the referee does not follow the rules.
“I expressed myself when I was upset and everyone knows that in these moments, the words surpass the meaning.” Ibrahimovic said in a statement.
Jenner said it was the statement of “a great champion” but the apology did not calm the controversy.
“Those who consider that France is a shit country can leave it,” Le Pen told the France Info radio station.
Jerome Guedj, a leading Socialist party politician, called the remarks “unacceptable”. “Let him play football and shut up, or at least be respectful of this country, the football supporters who were also insulted.”
Ibrahimovic, who has just returned from one two match suspension and will be suspended for the Champions league quarter final for his sending off last week is likely to face sanctions from the French league.
Sloppy defending inflicted the defeat which left Paris two points behind leaders Lyon and two ahead of third place Marseille.
Ibrahimovic had equalised twice for Laurent Blanc’s side, who remain in the hunt for four trophies, but Diego Rolan popped up in the 89th minute to steer the ball home when the central defence collapsed.
Blanc meanwhile said his side had struggled for fitness and motivation after their victory in London.
“We did something special on Wednesday and everyone is talking about it which is normal but to play 10 against 11 for 90 minutes against a team like Chelsea leaves its mark,” said the coach.