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Ibra Fined €50K but Avoids Playing Ban over Betting Firm Ownership

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been slapped with a €50,000 fine by UEFA over his financial interest in a Malta-based online sports betting and gaming operator.

The football veteran, who in his lengthy career has lined out for Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and now Milan, could have been hit with a three-year playing ban, but avoided that.

In an official statement from last week, the European football governing body confirmed that it has fined Ibrahimovic for breaching Article 12(2)(b) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations for having a stake in a gambling company.

The statement further noted that aside from the five-figure fine, “the chairman of the UEFA appeals body also issued Mr Ibrahimovic with a directive aimed at ceasing the player’s association with the relevant betting company.”

Late last month, UEFA announced that it has appointed an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to conduct an investigation into possible violations of the Disciplinary Regulations by Ibrahimovic. The probe commenced after Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported in mid-April that the Milan star became a part-owner of online sports wagering firm Bethard in 2018 and retained his stake in it.

Under UEFA and FIFA rules, players are not allowed to participate in any of the two organizations’ competitions if they hold financial interests in gambling companies.

Ibra’s Links with Bethard

The striker’s name was originally linked to Bethard in 2018 when he was tapped as the firm’s ambassador. As per a statement on the operator’s official website from back then, in addition to his role to promote the brand, he was also engaged in “the ongoing development of the company’s offering.”

According to the Aftonbladet report, Ibrahimovic owned a 10% stake in Bethard through his company Unknown AB.

The player himself said in 2018 that while he had been approached by a number of betting companies over the course of his career, he had not been presented to anything that had triggered him to get involved. He went on to say that with Bethard’s proposal to jump on board, “there was something different” as the operator had Swedish roots and its founders were from his hometown, Malmö, and were “true challengers who really want to do things differently.”

In a 2019 interview with The Times of Malta, Bethard CEO and founder Erik Skarp appeared to confirm Ibrahimovic’s interest in the company, saying he was one of their main shareholders and star ambassador.

The Milan striker in April extended his contract with the team until the end of next season, which means that he will continue to play beyond his 40th birthday in October. He also recently returned to Sweden’s national fold after a five-year hiatus, but will miss the UEFA EURO 2020 after picking up a knee injury earlier this month.

Source: Zlatan Ibrahimovic fined by Uefa over financial interest in betting company, The Guardian, May 26, 2021

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