Lyon have hit back at Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo following his criticism of club president Jean-Michel Aulas, saying Zlatan Ibrahimovic "could easily have avoided" injuring Dejan Lovren in Sunday's Ligue 1 meeting.
Leonardo responded angrily to Aulas' claim that Ibrahimovic should have been sent off after deliberately stamping on Lovren at the Parc des Princes and that French football authorities would want to review the incident, which went unpunished by match referee Antony Gautier.
The Brazilian told Aulas to "Leave Zlatan alone", adding that the OL supremo had "an inferiority complex" and merely wanted to find excuses for his team's 1-0 defeat.
Only hours after Leonardo's comments were made public on Tuesday, OL released a statement reiterating Aulas' claims, and expressing the seven-time Ligue 1 champions' "surprise" at Leonardo's reaction.
"OL reminds PSG's sporting director that custom and duty requires a club president in France to defend players' honour in general and that of their players in particular," the statement issued on the club's official website read. "It is as a president fully aware of his responsibilities that Jean-Michel Aulas talked of the seriousness of the incident, which could have had dramatic consequences for Dejan Lovren."
The statement went on to mention players, including OL defender Anthony Reveillere, who had been punished for "reprehensible actions" caught on camera but not spotted by referees this season.
It added that "none were as serious as stamping on someone's face, which came some weeks after another dangerous action, this time on a goalkeeper" - referring to Ibrahimovic's high foot into the chest of Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier, which led to the Swedish forward being sent off in early November.
"With regard to this incident of extreme seriousness, which Leonardo pretends to ignore, just as Zlatan Ibrahimovic had initially ignored Dejan Lovren after walking on him before then apologising, Leonardo will perhaps give more credit to the words of the OL defender, who considers it deliberate, saying Zlatan Ibrahimovic could easily have put his foot down to the side," the statement read.
"When we see, match after match, the extraordinary ease and grace of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, both with the ball at his feet and in his movements, it suggests he could easily have avoided the player if he had wanted to, even if we can imagine that he didn't deliberately aim for the player's head."