Zlatan Ibrahimovic risks being fined or even banned by FIFA and UEFA as it emerges his joint-stock company owns 10% of a betting agency.
The Big Swede could face a three-year ban, which would perhaps mean an early end to his football career. This is because of reports emerging about his partnership with a Malta-based betting company.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF ZLATAN
The report, further adds that the Swedish Football Association have been aware of the problem for three years and it is the reason the talismanic forward wasn’t called up for the 2018 World Cup, though he did retire from international football in 2016 until returning last month.
Ibrahimovic was announced as an ambassador and co-owner of Bethard in 2018, and said: ‘I have obviously been intensively courted by betting companies throughout my career, but up until now I have not been presented to anything that has triggered me.
‘With Bethard, there was something different. It’s a company with Swedish roots, the founders are from my home town and they are true challengers who really wants to do things differently’.
WHAT OFFICIALS HAD TO SAY
When the story originally came to light in March 2018, general secretary of the Swedish Football Association Hakan Sjjstrand said: ‘According to FIFA’s regulations and code of ethics, no player may directly or indirectly own shares in betting companies.
‘I stick to the facts and can only account for what applies to all nations and players who will participate in the World Cup.’
When approached this week about Ibrahimovic’s return to the national team and therefore possible punishment in this case, Sjostrand told Sportbladet:
“We haven’t discussed it with Zlatan. I don’t think about possible sanctions, but I would like a little more clarity from FIFA regarding its regulations because there is ambiguity in how they should be interpreted,”.
In an email, Bethard CEO Erik Sharp said: ‘These are questions that should be asked to FIFA.
‘We have an agreement with Zlatan that we follow and if problems arise, we will handle it together with him.’
Ibrahimovic turns 40 in October and this would almost certainly mean that he would be forced to retire if he was handed the maximum ban of three years.
The news story comes as a spanner in the works as, the 39-year-old is set to extend his career by another year, with a new contract at AC Milan until June 2022 likely to be signed in the coming days.