Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden rule out World Cup return in Russia

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Friday, April 27, 2018

LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of international retirement to represent Sweden at this summer's World Cup.

Ibrahimovic, who retired from international competition after Euro 2016, represented Sweden in the World Cup in 2002 and in 2006.

The 36-year-old striker, who moved to LA Galaxy from Manchester United last month, has frequently hintedat a desire to end that retirement after Sweden defeated Italy in a playoff to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 12 years.

However, a statement from the Svenska Fotbollforbundet (SvFF) released on Thursday ruled out any chance of a return for Ibrahimovic.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic has previously said no to playing for the national team -- and he hasn't changed his mind. I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday. He told me he hasn't changed his mind regarding playing for the national team -- it's still a 'no,'" says Lars Richt [sporting director].

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic is therefore, for the same reason as previous national team gatherings, not a candidate for the World Cup squad that coach Janne Andersson will present on May 15.

When asked about the Swedish FA's decision, Ibrahimovic confirmed he had no intentions of playing in the World Cup.

"I am not part of the national team and that has been since I stopped [retired from international duty]. There is no other issue there," he said, before adding: "But If I'm going to the World Cup? Yes, I'm going. That's what I've been saying all the time."

Pressed on how he would make it to Russia, Ibrahimovic responded, "I'm flying," before adding that Sweden werebetter off without him.

MLS will observe a nine-day break during the World Cup, from the opening match on June 14 running through June 22. The Galaxy resume play at the San Jose Earthquakes on June 30.

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