Zlatan Ibrahimovic banned for four games over anti-France rant
Paris: Paris Saint-Germain's tempestuous striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Thursday received a four-match ban from Ligue 1 officials for his comments attacking France and its referees.
Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) speaks with a referee in Paris. Pic/AFP
The 33-year-old Swedish star will miss PSG's games against Nice, Lille, Metz and Nantes as a result of his widely televised rant in which he said France did not deserve a team like the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain because of the way it is treated.
Ibrahimovic will already be missing for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona next week after his sending off against Chelsea in the last 16. He will, however, be eligible to play in PSG's League Cup final against Bastia on Saturday. A day after scoring a brilliant hat-trick, Ibrahimovic stayed away from Thursday's disciplinary hearing at the Professional Football League (LFP).
He was instead represented by a lawyer and two PSG officials. The hearing has tarnished another stellar week for the Swede whose hat-trick in a 4-1 French Cup semi-final win over Saint Etienne took him to 102 goals for Paris Saint-Germain in less than three seasons. He is now only seven goals behind the club record 107 by Portuguese star Pauleta.
But the Swede's stormy personality keeps getting him in trouble. He was banned for two matches in February for a foul on Saint Etienne's Romain Hamouma which was not immediately seen by the referee but was caught on video. Another match ban was suspended. Ibrahimovic has since been banned by UEFA for his sending off against Chelsea. And televised images were again his downfall against Bordeaux in March.
Furious at referee decisions in the game which PSG lost despite Ibrahimovic's two goals, the Swede appeared to insult a match official as he left the field. And he went on: "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."
Amid a political furore, Ibrahimovic quickly made a video apology for the comments. With Ibrahimovic in domineering form, Paris will miss him for any lengthy suspension as they target an unprecedented domestic championship, French Cup and League Cup treble. Paris coach Laurent Blanc reckons a quadruple with the Champions League is also possible.