Zlatan Ibrahimovic, arguably Sweden’s greatest footballer of all time, has alienated many of his fans by becoming the partial-owner of the rival of his original club. Now, many seen him as a traitor in his home town.
This weekend, the statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his native city of Malmö has been vandalised again. This time, the nose was sawn off and the once-golden body was painted silver. Lastly, a toe was also hacked off, and bird feed was scattered around the podium.
The circumstances of the crime are under investigation, and the police have asked the public for tips, the newspaper Expressen reported, suggesting that an angle grinder might have been used the process.
The attack on the statue occurred despite the newly-erected fence surrounding the momument to the truant town hero. The fence was set up after the previous act of vandalism, when the legs of the statue were broken.
The recent act of vandalism didn’t go unnoticed online, where Zlatan’s noseless face was compared, among others, to Voldemort, the evil wizard from Harry Potter.
The four-meter-high statue was inaugurated on 8 October at Stadiontorget Square in Malmö, just outside Malmö FF’s home arena, in the presence of thousands of people, including Ibrahimovic himself.
“When you come to Sweden, this is what you want to see, not the king’s statue,” Ibrahimovic, who is hardly known for modest and unassuming behaviour, said.
However, since the announcement that Zlatan bought a quarter of Hammarby IF, the archenemy of Malmö FF, and pledged to make it the best association football club in Sweden, the statue has been vandalised several times. A toilet seat has been hung on its arm, a plastic bag wrapped on its head, the word “Judas” painted on the podium, and both legs sawed. While the police have classified the previous attacks as serious damage, nobody has been arrested so far.
A number of calls have also been launched to get the statue moved, including on social media.
“It will be serial if it remains. Had I been Zlatan, I would have taken it away. This just feels unworthy to all parties, if it remains and keeps being vandalised,” sports expert Daniel Nannskog told national broadcaster SVT.
“It would be sad if you would give in to these hooligans. They know that it is easy to break things, but it is not as easy to repair, especially when it is in place,” sculptor Peter Linde told national broadcaster SVT, calling for more police presence.
Zlatan’s residence in Stockholm has also been attacked. There, “Judas” was written on the door, while foul-smelling fish was dumped on the street outside.
Ibrahimovic is seen as one of the most prolific scorers of his era and the most decorated Swedish athletes of all time. He is also known for his eccentric persona and his habit of referring to himself in third person. He spent his early years in Malmö, where he was born to a Bosniak father and a Croat mother.