(AA) – Several French political leaders have demanded high-profile Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic apologize over “insulting” comments he made following the champions’ 3-2 loss at Bordeaux in the French league on Sunday.
The Swedish football star’s outburst was caught on camera where he addressed one referee, saying: “F–ing wake up — we’re not playing in the amateurs. Wake up! I have never seen that in 15 years in my career, such a referee in this s— country.”
“You don’t even deserve PSG to be in this country,” Ibrahimovic continued.
He later apologized in a statement saying that his comments “were not against France or the French people.”
“I spoke about football. I lost the game, I accept that, but I can’t accept when the referee doesn’t follow the rules. It’s not the first time, and I’m sick of it.
“My sincere apologies if anyone was offended, or took it the wrong way,” Ibrahimovic continued.
On Monday France’s Sports Minister Patrick Kenner renewed his condemnation of Ibrahimovic’s comments but saluted the star’s apology.
“It was a shock for France … a welcome apology from this great champion,” Kenner said.
Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen called on Ibrahimovic to leave France. “Those who consider France to be a s–t country can leave it,” Le Pen told the France Info radio station.
Jerome Guedj, a Socialist Party member of parliament, said that Ibrahimovic’s remarks were “unacceptable.”
“He should just play football and shut up,” Guedj told Europe 1 radio.
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Ibrahimovic “is a great footballer. We always regret those outbursts on television with young people who are obviously affected and influenced.
“So he apologized, that’s fine,” said Belkacem.
Ibrahimovic is likely to face sanctions from the French league over his comments, despite his apology.
Speaking at his post-match media conference on Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc said there was “context” to Ibrahimovic’s comments.
“When you [the media] are angry, there is not necessarily a microphone around you. Otherwise, there might be things to say,” Blanc said.
“There is context. We talk a lot about refereeing. In my opinion we talk too much about it,” Blanc added.