Ibrahimovic feels 'hunted' by scrutiny from MLS opponents

Zlatan Ibrahimovic MLS LA Galaxy 04282019Katharine Lotze

Zlatan Ibrahimovic avoided a suspenion from Major League Soccer this week. 

The league ruled that the LA Galaxy star was not deserving of a ban for an incident with Mohamed El-Munir in the club's 3-2 win over Los Angeles FC last Friday. 

Ibrahimovic was the star of the night, scoring a classy hat trick and putting a stamp on a week in which he backed up his claims of being a "Ferrari among Fiats"​ by out-dueling the leagues leading scorer and MVP frontrunner Carlos Vela in a derby clash

But it wasn't all good from the big Swede. 

His clash with El-Munir​, with both players challenging for a ball in the air, ended with a facial fracture​ for the LAFC player which will require surgery. 

“I jumped like I jump every other duel,” he said on Thursday in quotes published on the league website. "It's not something [I do] on purpose or to hurt the guy, the only difference is I'm taller than everybody. So when I jump like that, it gets in the position of the [opponent and] it looks different. But I jump like every other duel, and that is the way I play my game. Nothing harm or whatever."

The 37-year-old went on to claim that opponents were looking to make the most of every bit of contact with him.

He was suspended earlier in the season for a clash with Sean Johnson, with the New York City FC defender sending pictures to the league of scratches on his neck. The clash with El-Munir also brought about calls from LAFC players and staff for another suspension to be handed down, leaving Ibrahimovic feeling as though he is being targeted for disciplinary action by those who are failing to stop him on the pitch. 

“I feel like I am hunted. But when you are the best, you're hunted,” Ibrahimovic said. “The only thing I say is I hope it's not personal [that] everybody says this, because personal and professional is two different things. And I hope the referee has a fair view on the whole thing.

“The thing I don't agree with: when you lose a game, to be a bad loser like that. We don't lower ourselves to that level. If we lose, we lose. Nothing to do, we can just work harder and do better the next game. When you still complain for losing, still crying for losing, still trying for losing, it's another level."

He continued: "Even the owners are complaining. Which level is this? If you cannot beat us on the field, you try to be on the side and do things that don't belong to the game. It is what it is.”

It should be noted that Ibrahimovic was called for a foul on the play with El-Munir, but was not given a booking on the field. He was, however, given a warning from the league for that foul and handed a fine for another moment in the match where the league found him "guilty of simulation/embellishment​."

​LAFC also picked up an undisclosed fine, issued to the team and head coach Bob Bradley, for violating the league's mass confrontation policy for an incident in the 73rd minute of the same match.