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FRENCH FOOTBALL

PSG

Zlatan named France’s player of the year

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain was named France's players' player of the year for the second season running on Sunday.

Zlatan named France's player of the year
Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic receives the Best Ligue 1 Player award during the TV show 'Canal Football Club' on Sunday. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

With a game of the season still to go, Swedish striker Ibrahimovic is the French top flight's leading scorer with 25 goals and has netted 40 in all competitions, beating the all-time club record of 39, set by the Argentine Carlos Bianchi in 1978.

His performances helped PSG retain the Ligue 1 title and he has now won nine national league titles in 13 years, encompassing spells with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan as well as Paris.

Another PSG player, Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, was named Ligue 1's young player of the year, while the coach of the year gong went to Rene Girard of Lille.

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FOOTBALL

‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief
Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”

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