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Zlatan faces first club as PSG host Malmö

Sweden's international star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets the chance to face his home town club as Paris Saint-Germain face Malmö FF in a Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Zlatan faces first club as PSG host Malmö
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic grew up in Malmö, Sweden. Photo: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon

The French champions and the Swedish title-holders meet at the Parc des Princes in the opening round of games in Group A, and with Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk also in the section, neither team can afford a slip-up.

It will be a particularly special occasion for Ibrahimovic, who grew up in the southern Swedish city and scored 16 goals in 40 league appearances for Malmö before moving to Ajax in 2001, later enjoying illustrious spells with Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona.

After Malmö beat Celtic 4-3 on aggregate to qualify for the group stage, Ibrahimovic, now 33, wrote on Twitter: “One day I hope to experience the Champions League in Malmö on the pitch. Congratulations!”

IN PICTURES: Zlatan pays visit to home town Malmö

The return match in Sweden is not until November, but in the meantime Ibrahimovic will be eager to help his current side get off to a winning start in Europe, and get among the goals – he is presently just three shy of Pauleta's club record tally of 109.

The striker missed Friday's 2-2 draw at home to Bordeaux in Ligue 1 due to an abdominal injury suffered on international duty last week, but Paris coach Laurent Blanc stressed that Ibrahimovic wanted to save himself for Malmö.

In his absence, Paris dropped points for the first time in Ligue 1 this season, two catastrophic errors from German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp gifting Bordeaux goals in reply to Edinson Cavani's brace for PSG.

“We need to move on, although we also need to analyse the reasons why we drew. It's a different competition, a different opponent, but we will need to be much more rigorous and disciplined against Malmö,” warned Blanc.


Malmö qualified for the Champions League after beating Celtic. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

Malmö finished bottom of their Champions League group last season, losing five out of six games, and they head to France on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to Elfsborg that left them fifth in the Swedish top flight.

With only seven games of the season remaining, a third consecutive title looks to be beyond them.

However, Norwegian coach Åge Hareide will be hoping Malmö, beaten European Cup finalists in 1979, can reproduce the performances that took them through three rounds of qualifying to reach the group stage.

“They are huge favourites and have world class players in every position, but we showed against Salzburg and Celtic that we have the level,” Swedish international defender Anton Tinnerholm told regional newspaper Sydsvenskan.

Malmö, whose star man is former Ajax and Werder Bremen striker Markus Rosenberg, are without Agon Mehmeti due to a foot injury.

READ ALSO: Zlatan breaks internet in rush for Malmö tickets

SHOOTINGS

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police

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In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”

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