Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović was fined €50,000 ($61,000) by UEFA for having ties to sports betting site Bethard, but escaped a potential three-year ban from the sport. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Part ownership of Sweden’s Bethard
European soccer’s administrative body UEFA has fined the colorful AC Milan and Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimović €50,000 ($61,000) for violating regulations by having a financial interest in Swedish betting firm Bethard.
Wednesday’s ruling results from a UEFA investigation into Ibrahimović’s links to Bethard following reports in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in April. The paper took to Twitter yesterday to share news of the soccer star’s punishment:
According to a UEFA statement, the chairman of the UEFA Appeals Body, Pedro Thomas, also issued the 39-year-old Ibrahimović with “a directive aimed at ceasing the player’s association with the relevant betting company.”
Article 12(2)(b) of UEFA’s Disciplinary Regulations forbids soccer players from having a “direct or indirect financial interest” in betting activities. UEFA’s parent organization, the world soccer governing body FIFA, goes into a little more detail. Article 26(2) of FIFA’s code of conduct states soccer players are “forbidden from having interests in “entities, companies, organisations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions.”
UEFA also hit Italian soccer club AC Milan with a €25,000 ($30,513) penalty for contravening the same article of UEFA’s disciplinary regulations.
Fined, warned, but not banned
UEFA started its “disciplinary investigation” into Ibrahimovic’s betting links in April 2021. It all kicked off earlier that month, when Aftonbladet drew attention to the soccer icon’s reported 10% stake in the Bethard Group through his company Unknown AB. Ibrahimović’s links with Bethard weren’t secret either, as the iGaming group announced that the legendary striker was a co-owner and ambassador. Ibrahimović is reportedly the fourth-biggest shareholder in Bethard, which posted net gaming revenues of $31m in 2020.
could have gotten a three-year ban from all soccer-related activities under FIFA rules
According to the sports earnings online database salarysport.com, the Sweden striker earns £187,000 ($265,137) per week playing for AC Milan. While the fine seems relatively small potatoes for someone with Ibrahimović’s earning power, he could have gotten a three-year ban from all soccer-related activities under FIFA rules.
After Aftonbladet started the Ibrahimović debate, the Swedish Football Association general secretary, Hakan Sjöstrand, commented by saying FIFA regulations forbid players “to own shares in betting companies.”
Ibrahimović and Bethard busy
In April, Ibrahimović signed a single-year contract extension with AC Milan, which will seem him play in the Rossoneri’s colors past his 40th birthday.
Bethard has also been busy of late. This week, Esports Entertainment acquired Bethard for €16m ($19.62m) in cash and a 12% net gaming revenue share for two years.
The plan is for the acquisition to officially close on July 1, 2021.