Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a very, very good player and one of the most colourful characters in world football. His loudly proclaimed decision to make an international comeback may well prove to be premature, however, for several reasons.
Firstly I should explain the comparison, and I don’t think I ever refereed him as a starter, by the way. Perhaps I did when he was a young Ajax substitute many years ago, in one of the UEFA competitions or other, but I certainly have no experience, either positive or negative, to relate when it comes to handling him in person from a referee’s perspective.
For many years I have been involved with the Homeless World Cup, and in May I will once again take part, only my invitation extends to taking the final, and not to any earlier games.
I had a conversation about it with another volunteer from Copenhagen, who told me that it’s unfair when the other referees have to get up so much earlier and prepare themselves for far more games than I will have to do. Sound familiar?
Of course, I see the point exactly, and it made me think, but when I talked to the organisers it turned out that they have made commitments to sponsors and so on which would mean to change things around at this stage would only cause problems for them.
So I will be there with my whistle as planned!
Many pundits have already had their say about Zlatan when it comes to his recent arrival in Los Angeles, what with his full page personal ad saying simply ‘You’re welcome’ in the LA Times and his appearances on shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live.
I know he likes to keep his tongue firmly in his cheek, but the former Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barca, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United striker, by saying that it’s not really a World Cup without Zlatan, is pushing the envelope even for him.
I understand he has investments in a betting company which would, as things stand, make it impossible for him to play for Sweden this summer without breaking FIFA rules, anyway.
To himself, with that famous ego, he is the biggest hero in the world and such a detail may not have regeistered with him just yet.
And maybe, if he had enjoyed a more productive time at the Euros in France two years ago, you could make more of a case for Ibra to ride, like the cavalry, back to help Sweden’s cause.
Another tedious problem for him to consider, however, is the fact that the team’s coach, Janne Andersson, has not made any statement at all so far on the prospect of throwing in a player who has not helped the team qualify at this late stage in the game.
Putting yourself in the shoes of the other Swedish players, you can certainly imagine that, despite his claim that he “put Sweden on the map” and that he makes superstars out of everyone who plays with him, they managed very well on their own up against France and the Netherlands before rising to the massive challenge of knocking Italy out over two legs!
So, with Andersson merely implying Zlatan might at least call him first, the big decision looks less than final, and we can only await the upset when Zlatan is politely informed that his services are either not required or not permitted.
That or his upset arising from an offer to brighten up Sweden’s imminent group campaign against the Germans, the Koreans and the Mexicans… from the bench!
Until next time, vi ses, or see you later.