Fans of Malmo, from where Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his senior career, set a statue of the Swedish footballer on fire after he announced his partnership with Hammarby.
Ibrahimovic, on Wednesday, announced that he has acquired 25% of the shares in the Stockholm club which finished third in this year’s Swedish league championship.
The news did not go down well with Malmo fans as they set the statue outside Swedbank Stadion alight. The video was posted on social media platforms by a group of supporters.
— Max Åkerberg (@AkerbergMax) November 27, 2019
The 3.5-metre tall statue, which was unveiled on in October last year in the presence of Ibrahimovic himself, was also vandalised with racist messages reportedly sprayed on it.
“Several people are said to have vandalised the statue and sprayed it with paint,” police spokesman Jimmy Morin was quoted as saying to state broadcaster SVC.
Before alighting the monument, reportedly the supporters had also covered the head of the statue with toilet seat as a mark of their protest. Malmo fans have also started an online petition to remove the structure.
It is being believed that Malmo fans are angry, not because Ibrahimovic decided to invest in a different team other than his boyhood club, but because he thought the Malmo supporters would not be disappointed by his decision.
“When it comes to Malmo we talk about the footballer Zlatan. I think they’ll respect that in Malmo. I have a good relationship with the club and always have. This has nothing to do with me as a football player. I think those in Malmo will be happy for me,” the former Swedish international said to Swedish daily tabloid Aftonbledet.
However, Kaveh Hosseinpour the vice chairman of Malmo’s official support group MFF, has said that the footballer has misjudged the situation and has overestimated his stature among Malmo fans.
“He probably forgot what he means to Malmo. He misunderstands his position when he says that Malmo will be happy for his sake. We’re not happy. I don’t think anyone is particularly happy for his sake,” Hosseinpour was quoted as saying to Swedish portal Fotbollskansalen.
“There is no one in Malmo who runs around in an LA Galaxy shirt with Ibrahimovic on the back – here you play with [captain Marcus] Rosenberg on your back. I think he overestimates how much he means to us. That’s how it is,” the vice-chairman added.