Nov. 27 (UPI) — In an apparent reaction to Zlatan Ibrahimovic becoming a part-owner of rival club Hammarby, Malmo supporters set a statue of the former Los Angeles Galaxy star on fire Wednesday.
Ibrahimovic, who began his senior playing career in 1999 with Malmo FF, is Sweden’s record international goalscorer with 62 goals in 116 games. He was honored with a statue outside Malmo’s stadium in October, which was targeted by fans with torches Wednesday.
In a video on social media, the statue was seen being lit on fire and vandalized with a racist message. Police have opened an investigation into the vandalism.
“Several people are said to have vandalized the statue and sprayed it with paint,” police spokesman Jimmy Morin told reporters.
The backlash occurred after Ibrahimovic purchased a portion of Swedish soccer club Hammarby on Wednesday. Ibrahimovic hasn’t said if he intends to play for the club, which is one of Malmo’s biggest rivals.
Ibrahimovic, 38, was born in Malmo, Sweden. The 6-foot-5 playmaker came to the Galaxy from Premier League power Manchester United in 2018. He also had tenures with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.
Ibrahimovic, who announced Nov. 14 that he was leaving the Galaxy, finished second in Major League Soccer with 30 goals this season, trailing only MLS MVP Carlos Vela. He also finished second in scoring during his first season in the league, notching 22 goals in 2018.
Hammarby finished third in the Allsvenskan league standings, trailing champions Djurgardens IF and Malmo FF.