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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Players in the men's soccer team deserve to get more recognition than their female counterparts in Sweden and people should stop whipping up a gender storm about it, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said.
The Sweden captain spoke out after his country's FA was slammed for presenting midfielder Anders Svensson with a new Volvo for breaking Thomas Ravelli's record of 143 international caps.
However, when women's midfielder Therese Sjogran failed to get similar recognition at the same soccer gala despite earning a record 187 caps, the move was widely criticised.
"With all respect for what the ladies have done, and they've done it fantastically well, you can't compare men's and women's football. Give it up, it's not even funny," the Paris Saint Germain striker said in an interview with the Expressen newspaper published on Wednesday.
"When I come out in Europe they compare me to (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo. When I come home they compare me to a female player.
"With all respect for the ladies, they should be rewarded in relation to what they generate (financially).
"I was asked (by Swedish media) in the summer who was the better player, me or (Sweden striker) Lotta Schelin.
"You're joking with me, right? When I've broken all these records, this goal record, the goals in the national team, who shall I compare it to? Shall I compare it to whoever has the record, or the ladies?"
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Pritha Sarkar