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Why Zlatan is investing in a Stockholm football team

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bought around a quarter of the shares in Stockholm-based football team Hammarby, the club announced on Wednesday.

Why Zlatan is investing in a Stockholm football team
Zlatan Ibrahimovic speaking in his hometown of Malmö in October. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Speculation about the footballer's return to Sweden had been building after he shared a picture of the Hammarby shirt emblazoned with his name on social media.

The news hasn't been well-received by everyone, since Hammarby are rivals of Malmö FF, the club where Ibrahimovic started out as a professional footballer in 1999.

Speaking to sports magazine Sportbladet, Ibrahimovic said his plan was to help make Hammarby “the best in Scandinavia”.

The club has only won the Swedish title once, almost two decades ago in 2001.   

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

A post shared by Zlatan Ibrahimović (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on Nov 25, 2019 at 10:36pm PST

“I don't think it's a surprise that he chose Hammarby to invest in if he was thinking of investing,” football reporter Lee Roden told The Local.

“They have close ties to LA Galaxy where he was playing, so he will have had great access to their operations behind the scenes, and as he rightly pointed out, they have huge potential. It's a strategic move that shows Zlatan or whoever is advising him has been paying close attention to detail.”

Ibrahimovic currently plays for LA Galaxy, but has confirmed plans to leave when his contract runs out later this year. 

He has bought half of the shares held by American sports and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group's (AEG) in Hammarby. AEG also owns LA Galaxy and had 47 percent of the total shares in Hammarby, meaning Ibrahimovic now owns just under 24 percent.

Ibrahimovic confirmed that he won't be playing for Hammarby, but said: “I look forward to working with football from a different angle. Not just on the pitch.”

He told Sportbladet that his existing relationship with AEG and connection to Sweden meant the opportunity was “impossible to refuse”.

Vocabulary

league – (en) liga

shareholder – (en) delägare

quarter – (en) fjärdedel

football shirt – (en) matchtröja

opportunity – (en) möjlighet

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Swedish by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find it useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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SPORT

Could Scandinavian countries lead the way in taking stand against Qatar World Cup?

Vehemently opposed to Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup, football federations in the Nordic countries are putting pressure on Doha and FIFA to improve conditions for migrant workers in the emirate.

Workers during construction of the Lusail 2022 World Cup stadium in December 2019. Football federations in Nordic countries led by Denmark have spoken out against Qatar's hosting of the event.
Workers during construction of the Lusail 2022 World Cup stadium in December 2019. Football federations in Nordic countries led by Denmark have spoken out against Qatar's hosting of the event. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Together with rights organisation Amnesty International, the federations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have ratcheted up the pressure in recent months, raising their concerns and presenting recommendations in letters, meetings with officials and pre-game protests.

“We are against holding the World Cup in Qatar, we thought it was a bad decision,” the head of the Danish federation DBU, Jakob Jensen, told AFP.

“It is wrong in many ways. Because of the human rights situation, the environment, building new stadiums in a country with very little stadium capacity,” he said.

Denmark is the only Nordic country to have qualified for the tournament so far. Sweden face a playoff next year to secure a place and Norway, Finland and Iceland have been eliminated.

Leading the charge, the Danish federation regularly publishes the Nordic countries’ letters sent to FIFA and holds talks with Qatari officials, including an October meeting with Qatar head organiser Hassan Al-Thawadi.

The main concern is migrant workers’ rights.

Qatar has faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are involved in the construction of the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure.

Campaigners accuse employers of exploitation and forcing labourers to work in dangerous conditions.

Qatari authorities meanwhile insist they have done more than any country in the region to improve worker welfare, and reject international media reports about thousands of workers’ deaths.

The Nordics have also raised other concerns with al-Thawadi, Jensen said.

“Will homosexuals be allowed to attend the World Cup? Will men and women be able to attend the matches together? Will the press have free access to all sorts of issues to do investigations in the country?”

“And all the answers we received were ‘yes’. So of course we’re going to hold him responsible for that,” Jensen said.

The Danish federation said its World Cup participation would focus on the games played on the pitch, and it will not do anything to promote the event for organisers.

It will limit the number of trips it makes to Qatar, the team’s commercial partners will not take part in official activities there, and its two jersey sponsors will allow training kit to carry critical messages.

In Norway, whose qualification bid fell apart when its best player Erling Braut Haaland missed games through injury, the issue culminated in June when its federation held a vote on whether to boycott the World Cup.

READ ALSO: Norway’s economic police call for boycott of Qatar World Cup

Delegates ultimately voted against the idea, but an expert committee recommended 26 measures, including the creation of a resource centre for migrant workers and an alert system to detect human rights violations and inform the international community.

Like other teams, Norway’s squad also protested before each match by wearing jerseys or holding banners like the one unfurled during a recent match against Turkey, reading “Fair play for migrant workers”.

But the Nordic countries have not always acted in line with their own campaign.

Last month at a Copenhagen stadium, a Danish fan was ordered to take down his banner criticising the World Cup in Qatar, as FIFA rules prohibit political statements.

And Sweden’s federation recently scratched plans to hold its winter training camp in the emirate as it has done the past two years.

Sweden’s professional clubs had protested against the hypocrisy of holding the camp there while at the same the federation was leading the protests with Nordic counterparts.

The professional clubs wanted to send a “signal”, the chairman of Swedish Professional Football Leagues, Jens Andersson, told AFP.

Individual players have also spoken out. 

Finland’s captain Tim Sparv last week issued a joint appeal with Amnesty demanding that “FIFA must ensure that human rights are respected”, adding: “We are in debt to those people who have worked for years in poor conditions.”

So far, none of FIFA’s 200 other member federations have joined the Nordic campaign.

“Hopefully all these Nordic neighbours of ours and us taking these steps will have an impact on other countries,” Mats Enquist, secretary general of the Swedish Professional Football League, told AFP.

“We need to ensure that all the aspects of football, not just the richest, are really taken care of when we come to a place.”

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