Although he’s been handed a lofty fine and a smack on the wrist, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not face a ban from football after admitting his involvement in a betting company.
The 39-year-old admitted having a financial interest in Bethard, a sportsbook and online casino headquartered in Malta, and for whom he appeared as an ‘ambassador’ in promotional material.
It is against UEFA rules for a player to be involved in sports betting in any way, and the governing body have a range of punitive powers at their disposal – including a lengthy ban, which would have all but certainly ended the Swede’s playing career.
But happily for the Swedish striker, UEFA’s disciplinary panel have instead dished out a €50,000 fine instead – and they also fined AC Milan, Zlatan’s current club, €25,000 into the bargain.
The frontman has also been ordered to cut all ties with Bethard.
“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,” a statement from the read.
Ibrahimovic has enjoyed a ‘financial interest’ in Bethard since being unveiled as a co-owner back in 2018, and – according to the rumour mill – one of the reasons he was cast into the international wilderness and not picked by Sweden for so long was their fear of UEFA sanctions once Zlatan’s conflict of interest became public knowledge.
He has enjoyed a career renaissance since returning to Italy with AC Milan, and has even built bridges with the Swedish national team – he would have played for them at Euro 2020 but for a knee injury.
But he can consider himself mightily lucky, because if UEFA had referred his case to FIFA’s directives then he could have been banned from football for three years – that would surely have brought the curtain down on Zlatan’s fine career.
All Bets Are Off
Revealing their decision, statement from UEFA confirmed the decisions they had taken:
“To fine Mr. Zlatan Ibrahimović €50,000 for violating Article 12(2)(b) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR), i.e. for having a financial interest in a betting company.”
FIFA have a slightly different take on those involved in betting in any way, and their zero tolerance approach would almost certainly have been curtains for Zlatan if his case had been handed to them.
Everyone in the professional game is subject to the FIFA Code of Ethics, and this dictates that ‘they shall not have any interests, either directly or indirectly (through or in conjunction with third parties), in entities, companies, organisations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions connected with football matches and competitions.’
Those ‘interests’ are defined as any medium that enables an individual to gain an advantage – be it financial or otherwise – from their involvement with a betting firm.
No players, managers, coaches or officials are allowed to have a bet themselves either, or advise friends, family members and syndicates and provide them with inside information.
If found guilty of any of the above, penalties range from fines of a minimum of 100,000 Swiss Francs – around £80,000 – right through to a complete ban on any football activities for up to three years.