The statue of soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic outside the stadium of his boyhood club in Malmo, Sweden has once again been vandalized.
This time, the statue was sawed off at the ankles and pushed down. The head of the statue was covered with a Swedish soccer t-shirt, and the words “take away” were spray painted next to the statue.
That’s a pretty unambiguous message about how some Malmo fans feel about Ibrahimovic these days.
The statue, which was unveiled in October, has been vandalized several times since late November. That’s when Ibrahimovic announced that he was buying shares not in Malmo, the club where he got his start, but in rival Swedish club Hammarby. Via USA Today, Ibrahimovic said that “there are no limits to how big Hammarby can be,” and he wanted to make the club the “best in Scandinavia.”
This did not play well with diehard Malmo fans. The day after the Hammarby announcement was made, Ibrahimovic’s statue was vandalized for the first time, with angry fans tying a plastic bag over its head, hanging a toilet seat over one of its arms, covering up the name at the base of the statue, and writing racist graffiti on the ground next to it. Videos also surfaced of fans attempting to light the statue on fire.
That “attack” required police protection, but a month later the statue was vandalized again. Angry fans cut the nose off the statue’s face and painted it silver. They also attempted to saw the legs off the statue, but were unsuccessful.
Malmo deputy mayor Frida Trollmyr told AFP that she sympathizes with Malmo fans, but finds the vandalization unacceptable.
“I can understand that many people are disappointed in Zlatan's behavior, but vandalizing a statute is simply unworthy,” Trollmyr said, via the BBC. “Better to express your dissatisfaction in a democratic way.”
The statue has been removed for repairs, but the club intends to put it back up. Ibrahimovic officially re-joined AC Milan this week and will try to help the floundering Italian power turn around its season.
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