Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is facing the prospect of a three-year ban from football that could end his career.
The legendary forward played for United between 2016 and 2018 and quickly became a folk hero at Old Trafford, scoring 29 goals in 53 games for the club.
The 39-year-old is currently at AC Milan in Italy, where he has scored 17 goals this season. But it is in relation to an investment offence that he is reportedly being charged, with his Sweden-based company Unknown AB owning a 10 per cent stake of Bethard, a betting company, reports Aftonbladet via The Mirror.
Any footballer’s involvement in a betting company is strictly against both FIFA and UEFA regulations.
The situation has allegedly been going on for several years – with Zlatan himself announcing the deal in 2018 shortly after leaving United – and has been well-known to the Swedish FA. The report claims it was the reason that Zlatan’s reversal of his 2016 international retirement did not lead to him being selected for Sweden in the 2018 World Cup.
‘Now it’s claimed that FIFA and UEFA are finally preparing to intervene and make an example of the ex-Manchester United striker,’ The Mirror says.
‘Neither FIFA nor UEFA allow players who feature in their competitions to have financial interests in gambling companies.
‘But Ibrahimovic may have breached these rules during AC Milan’s Europa League qualifier with Shamrock Rovers in September 2020 and Sweden’s World Cup qualifier with Georgia last month, after he returned to the national team set-up.
‘His involvement with Bethard could be punished with a substantial fine and a three-year ban by FIFA which, given the Swede is 39, could spell the end for his career.’
A Ban would represent a sad end to such an illustrious career. Football’s governing bodies may have believed that the big man would retire before they had to act on the issue, but with rumours of him playing on for another season in Milan, it may be that they feel forced to act now rather than turning the other way any longer.