Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right FN, is not usually one to wade into footballing matters, once claiming that she “could not identify with the French national football team because they had another nationality at heart” and “refused to sing the French national anthem”.
However, it seems that Ibrahimovic’s dig at her beloved homeland has hit a raw nerve with the politician, as she said on French radio “those who consider that France is a shit country can leave it, simple as that.”
However, criticism aimed at the striker has not been solely confined to the extremist political parties of France, with the French sports minister Patrick Kanner tweeting that “Ibrahimovic’s disappointment doesn’t justify his insults towards the referee and the country that has welcomed him. He should apologise.”
Ex-players have also waded into the debate, with former France international Frank Le Boeuf speaking of his “disappointment” and feeling his country “is being insulted by someone I love.”
Le Boeuf is certainly not the only admirer of Zlatan who has been shocked by the striker’s outburst; the Swede is hugely popular at PSG and has become an emblematic figure of French football since he signed for French outfit in June 2012.
Following the enormous back-clash his rant has provoked in the country, the often-controversial Swede took to social media to apologise for his behaviour, stating that his outburst was “not against France or the French people. I spoke about football.” He has justified his behaviour by stating he "can’t accept when the referee doesn’t follow the rules, its not the first time and I’m sick of it.”
Following the incident, PSG manager Laurent Blanc appeared to downplay the rant, claiming it was in the heat of the moment and that “when you are upset, and in the heat of the moment, you do not always think about the presence of microphones.” He also urged people to “not take his words out of context”.
It seems that politicians have done just the opposite, and the controversy promises to continue with the Swede’s outburst currently being investigated by the French football league (LFP).