Le Pen Calls for Footballer Ibrahimovic to Leave France

Marine Le Pen
France's far right National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen attends an interview with Reuters at the party's headquarter in Nanterre, near Paris, May 12, 2014. Philippe Wojazer/ REUTERS

The leader of France's nationalist party Front National, Marine Le Pen, has invited Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to "leave the country", after the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player dubbed France a "shit country" which did not "deserve" his team.

Ibrahimovic, who is known for his hot temper and self-aggrandizing remarks, made the comment while storming off the pitch yesterday after the final whistle was blown on a match which saw his side lose against Bordeaux in France's Ligue 1.

"In 15 years, I have never seen such a poor referee in this shit country, this country does not deserve PSG," Ibrahimovic exclaimed to French sports broadcaster Infosport+, who were waiting to interview him in the tunnel.

Ibrahimovic apologized hours after the outburst, clarifying he had been angry at the referee and that his verbal attack was not intended to offend France or the French people.

French sports minister, Patrick Kanner, commented that "disappointment was no justification for his offensive comments", but commended Ibrahimovic's apology as that of "a great champion".

However, Le Pen, leader of France's anti-establishment Front National, appeared to still be riled by the incident when she appeared on French radio station France Info this morning, saying that "whoever thinks that France is a 'shit country', can leave it".

Le Pen, who is currently campaigning ahead of next week's local elections in France, which some regard as a dress rehearsal for the 2017 presidential election, had other targets besides Ibrahimovic in her sights.

She dismissed France's centre-right opposition and Nicolas Sarkozy, by claiming that only a vote for Front National was a vote against the Socialist government. "The best vote against the Socialist Party is a vote for Front National," she said, dubbing Sarkozy's contrary claims "stupid".

Le Pen and Front National are no strangers to controversy themselves. Yesterday images emerged of Damien Hameau-Brielles, who is the party's candidate in the Bonchamp-lès-Laval constituency, pointing a gun at the head of a dummy of French president Francois Hollande.

Hameau-Brielles published the image himself on his Facebook page in 2012 and Le Parisien reports that he has also posted a picture of him suggestively holding a dildo while standing behind a dummy of Sarkozy, as well as racist and homophobic posts which have since been deleted.

Front National topped an Ifop poll on voting intentions at the local elections published by Le Figaro yesterday, winning 30% of the vote - more than any other party.

The centre-right vote for Sarkozy's UMP and the Democrat Independent Party (UDI) have a collective share of 29% of the vote while the Socialists have only 19%.

Front National topped polls for the last by-election at Doubs in February, however ultimately lost the election in the second round.