Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces football ban over Malta gambling site shareholding

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could face three-year ban over Bethard shareholding, says Swedish newspaper

Zlatan Ibramihovic could face a three-year ban over his Bethard shareholding
Zlatan Ibramihovic could face a three-year ban over his Bethard shareholding

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 39, could face a three-year ban, even an early end to his football career, because of his partnership with a Malta-based betting company, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet has reported.

That’s because through his company Unknown AB, the Milan striker Ibrahimovic owns 10% of the shares in Bethard, a gambling site with offices registered in Malta. 

The Swedish Football Association has now been aware of the problem for three years, and his Bethard ownership could now earn him a three-year ban or a hefty fine.

FIFA and UEFA do not allow players participating in their competitions to have financial interests in gambling companies.

Ibrahimovic turns 40 in October and would almost certainly be forced to retire if he was handed the maximum ban of three years.

Ibrahimovic’s company is the fourth largest owner in Bethard, which according to the latest available annual report in 2019 made a profit after tax of €29 million. Unknown AB is listed as holding around 10 percent of the shares in Gameday Group PLC, which in turn is the sole shareholder in Bethard.

Ibrahimovic was announced as an ambassador and co-owner of Bethard in 2018. “I have obviously been intensively courted by betting companies throughout my career, but up until now I have not been presented to anything that has triggered me,” he had said at the time. “With Bethard, there was something different. It’s a company with Swedish roots, the founders are from my home town and they are true challengers who really wants to do things differently.”

When the story originally came to light in March 2018, general secretary of the Swedish Football Association Hakan Sjjstrand said: “According to FIFA’s regulations and code of ethics, no player may directly or indirectly own shares in betting companies. I stick to the facts and can only account for what applies to all nations and players who will participate in the World Cup.”

Ibrahimovic is set to extend his career by another year, with a new contract at AC Milan until June 2022 likely to be signed in the coming days.