Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born and raised in Malmö, Sweden.

Ibrahimovic was born to a Muslim father and a Catholic mother, but now practices the religion of his mother. He described himself as “very Catholic”1 and even has a tattoo across his left side that reads, in English, “Only God Can Judge Me.”2 That wasn’t necessarily an exclusively religious statement however. It also could have been a response to critics of his abrasive personality and wild lifestyle.3

I found an image or two of him praying on the field,4 but nothing about him attending church or meeting the pope or anything else really. Except for a profession of love for (arguably) the world’s most popular sport:

Football is a religion in its own right, and everyone is welcome.5

Well said, Zlatan. Well said.

Non-political Politics

Politics revolves around Ibrahimovic more than he immerses himself in it. He’s often mentioned in conversations about immigration in Sweden. Ibrahimovic was born of a Bosnian father and a Croatian mother and grew up in a rough immigrant district. Sweden’s liberal immigration policies and its generous social welfare programs cause some Swedes to resent the immigrant population–and in turn the famous footballer.6 Although it’s a minority viewpoint, one unimpressed citizen wrote,

Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t Swedish. Swedish citizen? Yes, of course. An ethnic Swede that should represent our land, culture, and people? No.7

Ibrahimovic also became the target of outrage from some French politicians in 2012 when it was announced that his new French football club would be paying him an €11.3 million post-tax salary. The French budget minister called the figure “indecent,” but considering the country is set to tax his income at 75%, it seems to me like France is the real winner. Ibrahimovic himself said,

I don’t understand all the criticism. After all, the more money I earn, the more tax France receives.8

And anyway, who could complain when he scores goals like this one? But when it comes down to it, Ibrahimovic seems pretty much non-political. It’s just when you’re as high profile as he is, you’re bound to get dragged in one way or another.

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “El gol no lo es todo para mí, no estoy preocupado.” El Entorno. []
  2. The eleven tattoos of Zlatan. FC Barcelona Blog. []
  3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The craziest superstar on the planet. Daily Mail. []
  4. Football transfer rumours: Manchester City on spending spree. The Guardian. []
  5. Football is a religion in its own right, says Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Bettor. []
  6. Immigration in Sweden. Soccer Politics. []
  7. Immigration in Sweden. Soccer Politics. []
  8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The craziest superstar on the planet. Daily Mail. []