Ibrahimovic refuses to play two matches for Sweden

September 15, 2006

STOCKHOLM, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has refused to play for Sweden in the next two Euro 2008 qualifying ties after being sent home for staying out late before the previous match, the soccer association said on Friday.

Ibrahimovic, who plays for Inter Milan, Nantes midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson and Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg were sent packing by coach Lars Lagerback two days before a Sept. 6 Group F tie against Liechtenstein.

"I do not think that I can persuade someone to play in the national side or, based on FIFA's rules, make them play," Lagerback said in a statement.

Ibrahimovic will miss Sweden's home tie against Spain on Oct. 7 and the away game against Iceland four days later. Wilhelmsson and Mellberg, however, were ready to play again, the association said.

"If a player does not want to play, for whatever reason, then I do not see that he gives anything to the team. Then I would rather have a player who wants to take part 100 percent," Lagerback added.

Sweden beat Liechtenstein 3-1.