Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

Barcelona star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return as captain of the Swedish national team after a nine month absence, the Swedish Football Federation confirmed at lunchtime on Friday.

Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

28-year-old Ibrahimovic joined national team coach Erik Hamrén at a press conference in the Swedbank Stadium in Malmö on Friday to announce his return to the international set up.

“It is an honour to play for the national team,” Ibrahimovic said.

The star striker, who has scored 22 goals in 60 appearance for Sweden, is set to return to lead the side in the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championships in the autumn and could feature when Sweden entertain Scotland in a friendly on August 11th.

Ibrahimovic on Friday took the opportunity to explain his decision to rule himself out of international duty after Sweden’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa with a loss against Denmark last October.

“After the last match when we did not qualify for the World Cup, my motivation disappeared,” he said, adding that his lay off had given him a chance to think things over and spend time with his family.

“The negative thing is that I have missed playing for the national team, missed the Swedish people, to play for them and to wear the national team jersey,” he said.

Ibrahimovic also referred to the appointment of former Rosenborg coach Erik Hamrén as a factor in his decision.

“It feels like he has the same mentality as I do. He has promised me a medal.”

Hamrén returned the compliment at the jovial lunchtime press conference near to where the Malmö-born star began his professional career.

“A motivated Zlatan Ibrahimovic is worth gold for the Swedish national team. In my eyes he is one of the best players in the world.”

Ibrahimovic is set to share the captain’s armband with former Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson, who has led the team in his absence.

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.