A potentially serious situation
UEFA has begun a “disciplinary investigation” into superstar soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović’s alleged partial ownership of a gambling company. European soccer’s governing body has appointed an ethics and disciplinary inspector to determine if the Swedish striker is in violation of any betting-related regulations.
UEFA does not allow players to compete in its sanctioned competitions if they have financial interests in betting-related companies. This season, Ibrahimović has been playing in UEFA’s Europa League competition for Italian giant AC Milan. The 39-year-old reportedly owns 10% of Bethard Group, a position held through Ibrahimović’s company, Unknown AB. The Malta-based operator offers sports betting, casino games, and fantasy sports.
the striker could reportedly face a ban from the sport of up to three years
UEFA issued a statement on Monday, saying that it will provide further information on the matter in due course. While UEFA’s sanctions if Ibrahimović is found guilty are unclear, the striker could reportedly face a ban from the sport of up to three years and a fine under FIFA rules.
The Swedish superstar had only signed a single-year extension to his contract with AC Milan last week, committing to the team past his 40th birthday. He has not made a public comment on the situation.
Not a secret
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet began the recent discussion about Ibrahimović’s stake in Bethard earlier in April. Ibrahimović is reportedly the fourth-biggest shareholder in the group that recorded post-tax profits of £25.8m ($35.9m) in 2019. His links with Bethard have been public knowledge since March 2018 after the company announced that the legendary player was on board as a co-owner and ambassador.
At the time, the Swedish Football Association general secretary Hakan Sjöstrand commented on the matter, saying: “According to FIFA’s regulations and code of ethics, no player may directly or indirectly own shares in betting companies.”
Possible FIFA investigation on the way
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, has its own code of ethics. The rules prohibit players who compete in FIFA-sanctioned competitions from having any financial interests in a company that has a role in any form of gambling activity relating to soccer.
Up until last month, Ibrahimović had not played in any FIFA-sanctioned matches since the European Championships in 2016, after which he retired from the Swedish international side. He made his return in Sweden’s FIFA World Cup qualifier games against Kosovo and Georgia in March 2021. Playing these games could mean that Zlatan will face action from FIFA.