Manchester United’s in-form forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on Tuesday handed a three-game ban after accepting a charge of violent conduct, England’s Football Association announced.
The three-game ban means Ibrahimovic will miss United’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash against Chelsea on Monday, March 13. The ban only pertains to domestic fixtures, meaning he will be available to play in the Red Devils’ Europa League Round of 16 clash against Russian club FC Rostov. Apart from the FA Cup fixture, the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic, United’s leading scorer this season with 26 goals, will also miss the Premier League matches against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.
Ibrahimovic and Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings were charged on Monday following two incidents in Saturday’s bad-tempered 1-1 league draw.
Mings appeared to deliberately stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head as he jumped over him late in the first half at Old Trafford and the Swedish striker seemed to retaliate moments later by elbowing the defender in the head.
Both players would ordinarily have been facing three-game bans but the FA took the unusual step of saying Monday that in the case of Mings the standard punishment was “clearly insufficient”.
Bournemouth have until 1800 GMT Tuesday to decide whether to contest the charge against Mings.
On Saturday match referee Kevin Friend spoke to Ibrahimovic, who had already been booked, following his elbow on Mings, but neither player was cautioned.
As a result, the incident was referred to a panel of three former elite referees, who unanimously concluded that both offences merited red cards.
Ibrahimovic denied elbowing Mings on purpose, saying after the game: “I jump up and jump high and he jumps into my elbow. It is not my intention to hurt someone.”
Mings, whose conduct was widely criticised by a number of former players turned football pundits, said he had not intentionally stamped on Ibrahimovic’s head.
“I would never do that. That’s not in my game,” he said. “Hard and fair is how I like to tackle, but off-the-ball stuff like that isn’t part of my game.”
At the very least, Mings now stands to miss league matches against West Ham, Swansea and Southampton.