The threat to ban legendary Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from international football reveals the deep hypocrisy at the heart of the football industry.
Despite touching 40, there’s nothing in Ibrahimovic’s storied career, one that’s embraced the two Milans, Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester United, to indicate that he’s yet finished.
But here’s FIFA threatening to ban the icon for the crime of investing in a betting firm — while simultaneously accepting billions of dollars, across football’s frontiers, in sponsorship from the world gaming industry.
Where would thousands of football clubs, cup competitions, leagues, international tournaments, the World Cup itself, be without sporting sponsorship?
If wrongdoing is found and corruption suspected it should be prosecuted.
But today it’s near-impossible to untangle the myriad relationships of the money markets. One can only assume that all the heavy hitters have their investments in many pies.
This dichotomy over sponsorship is one that lies at the heart of the current debate over the future of gambling.
And it’s one that will undoubtedly be explored in the Official Review of the 2005 Gambling Act. Ibrahimovic, who boasts 31 trophies with a string of top clubs, among them Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, PSG and Manchester United, now faces a three-year international ban.
It’s unlikely that the man who’s modest enough to call himself “God” will feel stressed by the FIFA threat. As his country’s all-time leading goal scorer, with 62 goals from over 100 games, his legend is assured.
According to reputable reports in the Swedish press, Ibrahimovic owns 10 percent of the Malta-based Bethard Group.
Under current opaque FIFA and UEFA regulations, active players are banned from having financial interests in the betting industry.