Zlatan Ibrahimovic Donates $50K to Send Intellectually Disabled Team to Brazil

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterAugust 12, 2014

Kin Cheung/Associated Press

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's gesture meant that a Swedish team with learning difficulties could fulfil their dream and go to Brazil for the World Cup.

The INAS World Football Championship works in similar fashion to the World Cup, hosted in the same country as the main tournament in the same year—and teams must be made up of players who have an intellectual disability.

Sweden had qualified, but were unable to raise the funds to travel and play in the tournament.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic pays to send Swedish learning disabled team to Brazil for INAS World Cup http://t.co/6c1HHlJEjh pic.twitter.com/WtBbF8GkLC

— Brooks Peck (@BrooksDT) August 11, 2014

Various Sweden internationals had been approached for help to get the money in place for the tournament, but fund-raising efforts had fallen short until Zlatan was asked. According to Eurosport:

Assistant coach Stefan Jonsson said: "I spoke to Zlatan and asked if he could donate a shirt and he said, 'what the hell are you going with a shirt? How much is it to go?' When we said that we need to raise SEK 350,000, he asked for the account number and he deposited it.

“It’s unbelievable, incredible, fantastic. I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s true. Thanks to Zlatan a life-long dream will soon become reality for all of us involved.”

Ibrahimovic, 32, added (via SBNation):

"Football should be played by anyone, regardless of gender, disability or not," Zlatan told the Swedish FA's website. "And when we missed the World Cup, I was deeply disappointed, but when I heard about 'The Unknown Team' I said to myself that I wanted to do everything in my power to help them to experience the World Cup. There was nothing to think about. Now I get to experience the World Cup through them."

[H/T Eurosport, SBNation]