Zlatan Ibrahimovic has never been a stranger to controversy. The Swedish star is now in hot water once again after his latest comments about gender equality.
According to Philip O'Connor of Reuters (via Yahoo! Sports), the issue began when Anders Svensson received a greater honor for breaking the nation's record for international caps than female counterpart Therese Sjogran.
Ibrahimovic came to the defense of his country's FA in an interview with the Expressen newspaper (h/t O'Connor) by saying:
With all respect for what the ladies have done, and they've done it fantastically well, you can't compare men's and women's football. Give it up, it's not even funny.
When I come out in Europe they compare me to (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo. When I come home they compare me to a female player. With all respect for the ladies, they should be rewarded in relation to what they generate (financially).
I was asked (by Swedish media) in the summer who was the better player, me or (Sweden striker) Lotta Schelin. You're joking with me, right? When I've broken all these records, this goal record, the goals in the national team, who shall I compare it to? Shall I compare it to whoever has the record, or the ladies?
The 32-year-old veteran has proven to be among the best footballers in the world throughout his career. He currently leads Ligue 1 with 15 goals for Paris Saint-Germain in 18 matches. He has also scored eight goals in Champions League play this season, which ranks second behind only Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ibrahimovic has proven to be an elite scorer in many leagues around Europe, having success at PSG, AC Milan, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus and Ajax Amsterdam. Recently, The Guardian named him the third-best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.
However, his perceived slight against the women's team might come from the difference in results at the international level.
The Swedish women's national team finished in third place at the 2011 World Cup and should be a top contender for the 2015 event behind former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. Meanwhile, the men's team failed to qualify for the upcoming World Cup for the second cycle in a row.
Obviously, there is a lot of depth in the men's tournament, but the balance of success has made women's football very popular in Sweden.
Although Ibrahimovic might not agree with the way he is seen by his home fans, bad-mouthing compatriots could end up being damaging for his reputation and popularity going forward.
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