Ibrahimović Faces FIFA Ban Over Betting Shares
The Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, has just launched an official investigation into allegations of gambling links involving Swedish champions league player Zlatan Ibrahimović. An ethics and disciplinary investigator have reportedly been tasked with investigating the player’s alleged 10% ownership in gambling and betting giant Bethard, via his company Unknown AB.
Although the soccer superstar hasn’t competed in any FIFA-sanctioned contests since 2016, Ibrahimović’s involvement with Bethard has apparently been known to the public since 2018. It had been that year that saw the star Swedish player announced as ambassador and co-owner of the gambling and sports betting establishment, of which his Unknown AB reportedly owns the fourth biggest share.
Based and registered in Malta, Bethard offers fantasy sports offerings, gambling in the form of casino games, and also sports betting.
Heat From UEFA & FIFA
While it isn’t yet clear what form or extent UEFA’s own sanctions would take on if Ibrahimović were to be found guilty, there would be music to face from FIFA’s side also – a punishment that could involve a ban of up to three years as well as a fine. Such a ban would effectively mean the end of Ibrahimović’s career as a player, with the 39-year-old having recently signed a year-long contract extension with AC Milan.
UEFA issued a formal statement regarding the investigation into the player’s gambling ties on Monday, confirming that further information would be made publicly available upon clarity of outcome and finalisation. The football governing body does not permit players or coaching and/or support staff to enjoy any involvement with gambling and sports betting-related companies while involved in any of its sanctioned competitions.
Timing May Have Been The Culprit
Ibrahimović’s ownership stake in Bethard was resurfaced by a local Swedish newspaper in early April. According to the story ran by the paper, Bethard in 2019 reported post-tax profits of $35.9 million for the year.
Swedish Football Association General Secretary Hakan Sjöstrand had reportedly back in 2018, when the Swede’s ownership involvement with Bethard was first announced by the gambling and betting giant, commented on the news by saying that FIFA’s code of ethics did not permit any player to own shares in gambling and sports betting companies – irrespective of whether directly or indirectly.
Ibrahimović officially retired from playing for Sweden’s national soccer side after the European Championships of 2016. The first time he was seen making his return to international qualifier games had been for this year’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Kosovo, in March.