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Le Pen invites Zlatan to leave France after rant

PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic called France a "shit country" in an angry rant on Sunday after his team lost at Bordeaux. The National Front's Marine Le Pen responded by saying he was welcome to leave.

Le Pen invites Zlatan to leave France after rant
Ibrahimovic called France a "s**t country" then took back his words. Photo: AFP

Paris Saint-Germain suffered a Champions League hangover on Sunday as sloppy defending cost them a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Bordeaux and also dented the defence of their Ligue 1 crown.

PSG, who gave the French capital a boost with their dramatic Champions League last-16 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday, came back down to earth with a thud following a disjointed display at the Chaban-Delmas stadium in the south-west.

Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had equalised twice for Laurent Blanc's side, who remain in the hunt for four trophies, but Diego Rolan popped up in the 89th minute to steer the ball home when the central defence collapsed.

Sweden's Ibrahimovic took exception to some of the decisions made by referee Lionel Jaffredo and cut a furious figure at the final whistle when he stormed down the tunnel.

"In 15 years, I have never seen such a referee. In this shit country, this country does not deserve PSG." the striker blasted in English at the final whistle.

"PSG shouldn't be in this country. We are too good for this country," the giant striker added.

In an extended clip shown on Canal+ television channel, the Swede is also seen accosting the referee, whom he calls an "idiot".

PSG coach Laurent Blanc tried to play down the incident in a post-match press conference, suggesting Ibrahimovic was just "annoyed".

"Don't you get annoyed too?" he asked journalists. "But when you are annoyed there's not normally a microphone there."

Politicians were soon sounding off about Ibrahimovic's words with the minister of sport demanding an apology and the National Front leader Marine Le Pen inviting the Sweden striker to leave the country.

"Those who consider France a shit country can leave it," she said. 

Jerome Guedj, a leading Socialist party politician, called the remarks "unacceptable". "Let him play football and shut up, or at least be respectful of this country, the football supporters who were also insulted."

It wasn't long before the big Swede was offering his excuses for the rant.

In a statement released later on Sunday Ibrahimovic apologised saying: "My words were not targeting France or the French people. I was speaking about football and nothing else.

"I was speaking when I was annoyed and everyone knows that at these moments you can speak without thinking," he said.

The French league will study the Swedish player's latest outburst at a meeting on Thursday and could take sanctions. 

   
The French referees union, SAFE, hit out at what it called "a new torrent of hate and verbal violence" by Ibrahimovic.
   
"There are limits that cannot be and must not be crossed," the union said, highlighting the "growing violence" at football matches even at local level.

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FOOTBALL

OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP

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