The LA Galaxy striker will not be “a loser complaining about refs”, but suggested that a basketball legend influenced decisions in the MLS play-offs
Zlatan Ibrahimovic wondered if Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson was distracting the El Trafico VAR when Carlos Vela’s controversial second goal was allowed to stand.
Los Angeles FC claimed their first victory over rivals LA Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference semi-finals, running out 5-3 winners in an instant classic.
Vela netted twice to open the scoring, but his second effort saw a borderline call go in LAFC’s favour, with Brian Rodriguez and the Mexican having appeared to be offside in the build-up.
LAFC part-owner Johnson was in the stands, prompting Ibrahimovic to playfully suggest he had a role in the referee’s failure to reassess the decision with the help of VAR.
Told Vela’s strike was offside by a reporter, Ibrahimovic replied: “Was it? Are you sure? Are you 100 per cent sure? And you think we didn’t know that? But the referee didn’t know that.
“[VAR] didn’t [get involved]. What was he doing upstairs? Drinking coffee with Magic Johnson?
“It’s difficult, because if you have the VAR, it means the game has been extra-controlled by the fifth referee upstairs. But if he’s drinking coffee with Magic Johnson, it’s difficult to play the game.
“He has to be in control. [The referee] didn’t even go out and check. He said he needed a signal from the VAR people to go out and check. So what are the VAR people doing?
“But I don’t want to complain about that, guys. We just lost, and I don’t want to be a loser complaining about the refs because it’s not my level.”
Defeat on derby day could represent Ibrahimovic’s farewell to MLS after two memorable and goal-laden years.
He has been due to be out of contract in December and has been yet to make a decision on what his next move will be.
Whatever the 38-year-old decides, he has boldly declared that the game in America will not be the same without him.
Article continues below
“It’s not about money,” Ibrahimovic said, as reported by ESPN.
“I have another two months [on my contract]. We’ll see what happens.
“[If I stay], then MLS has been good, because the whole world will watch it. If I don’t stay, nobody will remember what MLS has been.”