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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Ibrahimovic blasts Swedish media for 'undercover racism'

The football star claimed he was a victim of racial discrimination by his home country’s media in an in-depth interview with French TV

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at what he termed “undercover racism” in the Swedish media
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at what he termed “undercover racism” in the Swedish media

Football icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at what he termed “undercover racism” in the Swedish media.

The Manchester United striker, 36, told French TV network Canal Plus that he believed he was subject to certain criticisms from the media because of his ethnicity, "They still attack me. Because they cannot accept that I am Ibrahimovic. If another Swedish player made the same mistake I think they would defend them. But when it comes to me, they do not defend me".

Ibrahimović was born to a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother in the deprived neighbourhood of Rosengård in Malmo, he represented Sweden for 15 years before retiring from international football in 2016.

He added: "This is about racism. I don't say there is racism but I say there is undercover racism. This exists, I am 100 per cent sure. Because I am not Anderson or Svenson. If I was, trust me, they would defend me even if I were to rob a bank. But they're not defending me in the way that they should."

The in-depth interview touched on Mr Ibrahimović’s troubled upbringing.

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The striker also claimed to feel underappreciated; "I'm probably the best player Sweden’s history. What I did, nobody else has done. The Golden Ball in Sweden. The best that ever won these had two Golden Balls. How many do I have? I have 11. I have 11 Golden Balls" but when asked by the interviewer if the Swedish media considered him “too arrogant", he replied: "It doesn't matter. I'm the best there is. Either you're proud or appreciative of what you have, or you're not". The striker has previously compared himself to fine wine, a great white shark and god.

Sweden has faced increasing racial tensions between immigrant communities in recent years, last week a 17-year-old Yazidi refuge was hospitalised in the city of Lund after being attacked by dozens of Chechen men who reportedly chanted Islamist slogans.

In 2008, Ibrahimović’s home neighbourhood of Rosengård played host to several days of ethnic riots. The clashes took place between a group from the neighbourhood’s Islamic community and police.