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Zlatan Ibrahimovic rips MLS ref Allen Chapman


MLS Soccer - Los Angeles FC v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

In a crowded hallway at Banc of California Stadium post El Trafico, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic let loose on PRO referee Allen Chapman.

Here’s the full quote:

“He needs to go back to the drawing board and learn basics because the way he talks, the way he does things, there’s no connecting him to the game. He felt the fans were here for him tonight, so he made it a game for himself. A game like that cannot be decided by the referee. The teams need to decide the game. This referee, I remember him from Portland when he said something stupid to me. Today he said something stupid to me. He needs to, I don’t know, he needs to go back to the guy in charge...and do basic stuff. This is me, I’m being honest. I get fouled, the guy says nothing. “A little push.” After that, it influences my game. I cannot play free, I cannot play 100 percent, because every time I touch somebody, it’s like I’m sending them to the cemetery.”


Good for Zlatan.

It’s become painfully obvious over the course of this 2019 MLS season the quality of referees are well below an acceptable standard. Words like atrocious occasionally come to mind.

Ibrahimovic has been in the league well over a year and the collection of officials employed by the Professional Referees Association still appear unable to protect the big Swede. At least once or twice a match opponents illegally accost Zlatan during aerial challenges without consequence.

At 6’5” Zlatan uses his enormous size as an advantage in multiple ways and is clever enough to draw contact on a regular basis. Yes Ibra escaped punishment for the much-maligned collision with Mohamed El-Munir, but Zlatan has too often been on the receiving end of legitimate fouls only to be met with shrugs from the refs.

If I’m Zlatan absorbing knocks during Sundays match without receiving a single call, I’d be upset. If I were to check the box score afterwards and discover I was whistled for three fouls when LAFC the team was whistled for three fouls TOTAL in a derby match, I’d be far more descriptive than Ibra was in that postgame scrum.

As the quality of the play in MLS continues to improve, so must the officiating. Competitive world-class footballers will not tolerate a playing field where the athletes on the pitch do not decide the match, as Wayne Rooney made clear recently.