Zlatan Ibrahimovic is shedding football for entrepreneurship as he acquired roughly 25 percent of the shares in Stockholm-based football team Hammarby, the club said Wednesday.
The 38-year-old former Juventus, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United forward has bought 50 percent of American sporting and entertainment company Anschutz Entertainment Group’s (AEG) stake in the Swedish team, according to a separate statement by AEG.
AEG also owns LA Galaxy where Ibrahimovic has played the last two MLS seasons, although he has confirmed he will leave when his contract runs out at the end of the year.
Ibrahimovic had hinted that something was in the works earlier this week when he posted a short video on Instagram showing a football jersey in Hammarby’s colours and the name Ibrahimovic on the back.
He said he would not have a playing role for Hammarby.
“For 10 years I’ve said I won’t return to Allsvenskan (Sweden’s top league). It’s not going to happen,” he told sports magazine Sportbladet.
“I had agreed with the team from Hammarby and AEG to get this thing as global as possible. We were to be seen all over the world. Not just in Sweden.”
“This is still new to us, but of course very exciting,” Hammarby’s chairman Richard von Yxkull said in a statement.
The club was originally founded in the late 19th century, although it only started a football club in 1915. It has only won the Swedish title once — in 2001.
Hammarby are also rivals of Malmo FF (MFF), the club where Ibrahimovic started his professional career in 1999.
Such is the love for him at Malmo that a statue of Ibrahimovic was unveiled outside their stadium in October but he does not anticipate any backlash from his hometown fans.
“I know they won’t be disappointed. What I have done for MFF will last for ever. This is completely different situation. It has nothing to do with where my career started,” he told Sportbladet.
But some supporters where less than pleased to learn of Ibrahimovic’s new stake in a rival club.
“I feel bad for Zlatan. He’s burnt every bridge to MFF,” Kaveh Hosseinpour, vice-president of MFF’s supporters’ club, told broadcaster SVT.
Hosseinpour added that Ibrahimovic’s main contribution to MFF was “being sold for a lot of money.”
“Since then he hasn’t done much more.”