One of Europe’s top athletes is once again sending LeBron James a message that the NBA star should only do what he is good at, and that means leaving aside James’ frequent forays into politics.
Earlier this year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who spent two years with the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS and has since moved on to AC Milan, was asked about James during an interview with Discovery Plus in Sweden. Ibrahimovic praised the Los Angeles Lakers star’s performance on the court but said he wasn’t so impressed with James’ political activism.
In reply, James said he would ignore the advice.
“There’s no way I would ever just stick to sports because I understand how this platform and how powerful my voice is,” he said then, according to Fox News.
But Ibrahimovic was not done with the point. In an interview published Saturday, the soccer star said that causing divisiveness is not what athletes should be all about.
The interview asked him, “Does your opinion still diverge from that of LeBron James, who you have clashed with?”
“I said that we are not politicians. Politics divides people,” Ibrahimovic told France Football.
“Football, in my world, unites people. Big difference. Because I have had the chance to meet and get to know people that I would never have known if I did not play football. I have met people from all four corners of the world,” he said.
“We unite people. Politicians divide. If I wanted to be a politician, I would do politics. We should only do what we’re good at,” Ibrahimovic said.
“Sports and politics are two different categories. If you are intelligent, you understand,” he said, adding that he had no wish to “send a bad message to people.”
“I am just here to unite, spread love and joy,” the soccer star said. “This is the best means we have to do it. Football or sport. Because we are good for that. I am good for that. I am good at football.”
Reactions flowed on Twitter.
In America, athletes are allowed to state their political opinions without any backlash. As long as their opinions are left sided and woke
— James Scullion (@JamesScullion11) September 11, 2021
He’s wrong though
Racism is never political
— Tresor Jizzle (@tresormurenza3) September 11, 2021
In his previous interview, Ibrahimovic said James was “phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people, when they have some kind of status, and they go and they do politics at the same time what they’re doing.”
“I mean, do what you’re good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I’m the best in playing football. I don’t do politics. If I would be a political, politician, I would do politics,” he said.
The soccer star said too many people decide once they become famous that their opinions ought to matter more than other people’s.
“That is the big first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status,” said Ibrahimovic, who has won 31 trophies in his career and is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time.
“Stay out of it. Just do what you’re best at, because it doesn’t look good,” he said.
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