Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended four Ligue 1 matches for ref comments
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was suspended four matches on Thursday by the French league's disciplinary commission following his criticism of a referee last month.
Following PSG's 3-2 loss at Bordeaux in the league on March 15, the Swede striker lost his temper and vented his anger on television at decisions which went against his side. Ibrahimovic, whose comments were caught on camera, insulted referee Lionel Jaffredo and one of his assistants, then used an expletive to describe France.
Ibrahimovic, who later said he was sorry after the French sports minister asked him to apologize, is available for Saturday's League Cup final against Bastia as his suspension only starts next week.
He will miss league games against Nice, Lille, Metz and Nantes and should return for the last three matches of the season.
Although PSG sporting director Olivier Letang argued that Ibrahimovic should not be suspended because he did not address his comments directly to the referee, the disciplinary commission activated a suspended one-match ban imposed in January to add to the three games he received for the latest incident.
Ibrahimovic, who took his tally with PSG to 102 goals in less than three years following his hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Saint-Etienne in the French Cup midweek, will also miss the first leg of his club's Champions League quarterfinals against Barcelona after he was sent off against Chelsea in the previous round and suspended for one match.
Ibrahimovic's comments in Bordeaux caused an outcry in France, with National Front leader Marine Le Pen suggesting that he should leave the country if he was not happy.
The Swede's suspension is a tough blow to PSG's ambitions as Laurent Blanc's team chases an unprecedented quadruple with a squad already missing several key players through injuries.
Ibrahimovic has been in tremendous form recently, completing two hat-tricks in three games and scoring 10 goals in his last six matches for club and country.
The 33-year-old Ibrahimovic has never been shy of controversy during his much-traveled career. After he was sent off for a late challenge on Oscar in the first half of PSG's match at Stamford Bridge last month, he described the Chelsea players as a bunch of "babies."