Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces new ban over anti-France tirade
Paris Saint-Germain`s volatile star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic faced a new suspension Monday over comments he made about his host country which one French minister called "insulting".
Paris: Paris Saint-Germain`s volatile star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic faced a new suspension Monday over comments he made about his host country which one French minister called "insulting".
The French league will study the Swedish player`s latest outburst at a meeting on Thursday and could take action against him.
Even though Ibrahimovic apologised in a public relations damage limitation campaign, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said he should leave France.
The league imposed a two match ban in February after Ibrahamovic kicked an opponent.
He was also controversially sent off in the Champions League victory over Chelsea last week and will miss the two leg quarter final.
A new ban is likely for the comments after a 3-2 defeat by Bordeaux on Sunday when Ibrahimovic had scored twice to level the key league game.
Furious at decisions made against Paris, Ibrahimovic stormed off the pitch and said: "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."
He also made an abusive comment about the referee but backed down after France`s Sports Minister Patrick Kanner called the remarks "insulting".
Ibrahamovic said in a statement and in a video for the Paris Saint-Germain website that his comments "were not directed at France or the French."
"I was angry in the heat of the moment. If they thought my comments were against them or if they misinterpreted them, I apologise sincerely," the 33-year Ibrahimovic said in the video.
"People have always welcomed me, I am happy, I respect people who respect me. Every day of my adventure at PSG is fantastic," he added.
"Don`t twist things. Let`s talk about football, let`s not talk about anything but football because football is the most important thing for me."
But the apologies were not sufficient to calm the stormy waters.
Sports Minister Kanner welcomed the apology but said "if a personality as important as Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes such comments, we should not be surprised that there are such difficulties in stadiums."
"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 has become an icon for Paris fans and a wax effigy was unveiled at the Musee Grevin in Paris last month.
But a new ban could see him miss a crunch match against arch-rivals Marseille on April 5 and the latest trouble could heighten speculation about Ibrahimovic`s future at the club.
Comments made by the Swedish player at the referee in Sunday`s game are likely to be studied at Thursday`s hearing.
The French referees union, SAFE, hit out at what it called "a new torrent of hate and verbal violence" by Ibrahimovic.
"There are limits that cannot be and must not be crossed," the union said, highlighting the "growing violence" at football matches even at local level.