Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might think France is s**t

After Zlatan Ibrahimovic unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade, in which he described France as a "shit country", The Local looks at what might have really been behind the big Swede's outburst. Some folk may be sympathetic.

Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might think France is s**t
Why is Zlatan Ibrahimovic so mad with France? Photo: AFP
The housing issue in Paris
The big Swede is likely to be still bitter about the housing situation in the French capital (let's face it, who hasn't been at one time or another?)
Don't forget that when he moved to Paris he had to put with living in a hotel (The Intercontinental Grand Hotel, to be exact) for a fairly long time. When he was asked about his living arrangements, he famously quipped that if he couldn't find anything then he'd "just buy the hotel".

(Photo: Istvan/Flickr)
As always, it's hard to tell when Zlatan is joking. His next line, however, made it seem like more of a joke… we think:
"If I can't buy the hotel I am going to live in the Eiffel Tower and go to training by parachute."
The striker's flat-hunting ordeal went on for months until Le Parisien newspaper reported that in December last year he finally found the apartment he had been looking for (or three of them to be precise, which he was going to bring together).
And of course, Paris being Paris, Zlatan was forced to pay through the nose for his rent – €30,000 a month to be precise and for that he only got 600 square metres (according to reports)
We will be the first to admit that Zlatan is a talented wordsmith. He regularly gives interviews in Swedish and English, and is rumoured to speak five languages in total (no doubt thanks to his Bosnian Croatian heritage and his extended stint playing in Italy and Spain).
But is the French language one tongue too far for the towering talisman? 
It was notable that his tirade against the referee on Sunday was delivered in English. Some sympathy for Zlatan here as we've all been there when we've been riled by a local and can't find the words in French, so just resort to shouting random insults in English. But it's not the way to go and we recommend Zlatan consult The Local's "Ten vital French put-downs to use in an argument".
Here is a clip of him speaking French as his teammates laugh. 

He doesn’t like “caviar-eating” Parisians:

Plenty of visitors to Paris, including French ones, have complained about the snobby attitude of Parisians over the years. Ibrahimovic has also had one or two harsh things to say about the locals.

After one particular match for PSG earlier this year, Ibrahimovic mouthed off about the local "caviar-munching" supporters. It followed a match that PSG won, but were whistled by sections of the notoriously hard to please home crowd.

“I don’t know what they want. We win, we lose and they whistle.

"Maybe they are used to eating caviar before they come to the match.”

It wasn’t the first time that he had taken the local crowd to task for whistling his team. After a match in 2013 he said: “They demand a lot. Which is strange when you look at what they had before, which was nothing.”

SEE ALSO: Ten of the best quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic

He’s into liberté, but not fraternité or egalité:

The big striker might have a few issues with some of France’s founding principles. While he clearly values liberté, given that he seems to do what he wants on the pitch, he looks as though he might have a certain issue with fraternité.

If you watch Zlatan lope around the pitch during any PSG game as his team mates do all the running and hard work to get the ball back it’s clear the principle of “brotherhood” or fraternité is not valued that highly.

Then there’s his view on egalité, which perhaps can be summed up in this quote he gave to a journalist when asked about the role of his wife in his career: “My wife stays at home to look after my kids. It’s the only thing I need her to do. She has nothing to do with my football.” Let’s just say he’s unlikely to be the guest speaker at Femen’s Christmas party this year.

He does not fit into France’s secular model

The conversation went a bit like this.

Journalist: “What will be the outcome of this clash?”

Zlatan: “Only God knows.”

Journalist: “It’s difficult to ask him.”

Zlatan: “You’re looking at him.”

France’s founding principal of “laïcite” which is a strict separation of all things God-related and the state has made it hard for the self-declared God Zlatan to exert his influence over French football and society at large. He might be more comfortable playing for the Vatican 11, and the football-loving Pope Francis would only be too happy to sign him up.

France's pesky Socialists

You can only have imagined Zlatan's reaction when Socialist president François Hollande got elected and promised to introduce a 75 percent tax on millionaires, footballers included. Although Zlatan ended up not having to pay the tax himself, the French socialists have never let him forget how obscene they think his wages are.

"These numbers are not impressive, they are indecent," said the then Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac when asked about Ibrahimovic's salary

"They are indecent at a time when everyone in the entire world is making efforts and knows the terrible consequences of a crisis," said Cahuzac, who was soon fired for tax dodging. 

French football too small for the big Swede

Ibrahimovic has made it pretty clear from the very beginning of his time at PSG that France’s Ligue 1 was simply too small fry for him although he was prepared to put up with it.

“I don’t know a lot about Ligue 1, but Ligue 1 knows exactly who I am,” was what he said when he first arrived in France after being bought by PSG's Qatari owners with their petrodollars.

Essentially this seems to be the reason for his foul-mouthed rant on Sunday. His frustration with the standard of the refereeing can be seen as a sign of his irritation with the French league in general, whose standing is well behind that of the English, Spanish, Italian and German leagues.

Missing his meatballs

(Photo: Alpha/Flickr)
Could it be that the French cuisine hasn't been enough to satisfy the Swede's tastebuds? Perhaps Sweden's famed meatballs are the secret recipe that's missing from the footballer's dinner plate. Throw into the mix that the closest Ikea (which some say sells the best Swedish meatballs) is miles out of the city… then it's no wonder he's losing his temper. 

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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