Zlatan Ibrahimovic draws criticism from Lyon's Hubert Fournier

Zlatan Ibrahimovic draws criticism from Lyon's Hubert Fournier

Published Feb. 6, 2015 2:29 p.m. ET

PARIS -- Lyon coach Hubert Fournier has criticized the behavior of Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, saying he has a nasty habit of insulting referees in English or Italian.

French league leader Lyon hosts second-place PSG on Sunday, and PSG can move into first place if it wins.

The well-traveled Ibrahimovic, who has played in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and his native Sweden, is returning to form after recovering from a nagging heel injury.

Fournier thinks referee Clement Turpin should brace himself for a difficult time dealing with the notoriously fiery Ibrahimovic, who has won league titles with Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Ajax, Juventus, and two-time defending champion PSG.


''The person who is going to be most provoked is rather Mr. Turpin, like all the referees in this league who get insulted by this person,'' Fournier said on Friday at a pre-match news conference.

''Apparently, the referees are not bilingual or trilingual, so they don't understand. In a way, it's better to speak Italian or English to insult referees.''

The game could be a turning point in the season, and opposes Lyon's tight unit of largely homegrown players with the expensive signings of a PSG side sometimes found wanting for team spirit.

Fournier has warned his players to keep their composure - and to stay respectful.

''I don't want (our team) to provoke, I don't want us to insult the officials,'' he said. ''I hope we remember not to fall for Zlatan's provocations.''

PSG's confidence is high following six straight wins, while Lyon has been dealt a double blow by the injury-enforced absences of 21-goal league top-scorer Alexandre Lacazette and key center half Milan Bisevac both out injure.

Lacazette won't be sidelined for long by a hamstring injury, but Bisevac is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, meaning Lyon has to try and contain Ibrahimovic with a makeshift center-half pairing.