“I’m sorry if I offended you” and its variants are the Jedi mind-trick of apologies. On the surface, it sounds contrite. Like the speaker is deeply saddened that he or she can caused you pain. They’re truly sorry that the match they set to your (hopefully metaphorical) home has caused you residential discomfort.
This is where we find Zlatan Ibrahimović after this weekend. Following Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-2 loss away to Bordeaux, Zlatan was caught by television cameras reportedly saying “In 15 years I’ve never seen a [good] referee in this shit country … [they] don’t even deserve PSG.” You can admit that you laughed after reading that, as long as you acknowledge that it’s kind of foul.
Ibra usually follows the Christopher Wallace school of thought when it comes to apologies: “If I said it, I meant it. Bite my tongue for no one. Call me evil, or unbelievable.” But something sparked the furnace in his heart, and he offered up this concession on Instagram:
This is a half-apology and it’s beautiful. Zlatan insulted an entire nation — or at least an entire national soccer program — and somehow blamed France for upsetting him in the process. It has so many of the hallmarks of someone who really doesn’t care to hear your opinion about their actions.
He used a “heat of the moment” excuse, always good for athletes who are the subject of a thousand stories about being driven by passion. He told offended parties that they were worried about the wrong thing. He didn’t mean that all of France was shit, just it’s soccer — except for his own club, of course. See? No problem.
What “My sincere apologies if anyone was offended, or took it the wrong way” really means is “Hell yeah, I meant what I said. It sucks that you’re too soft to deal with it. Grow up.” It’s what you say when you’re a public figure whose income is at least in part based on public opinion.
Zlatan just wants you to be better people, France. Really you should be thanking him for caring enough to tell you.