Zlatan Ibrahimovic Rips 'Undercover Racism,' Says It Costs Him Credit in Sweden

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on December 26, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he's the victim of "undercover racism" in his native Sweden and doesn't receive due credit from the country's media because of the fact he doesn't have a traditional Swedish surname.

Ibrahimovic, 36, spoke to French broadcaster Canal+ and said he does not receive the same treatment as other Swedish athletes because he doesn't have a surname like Andersson or Svensson (h/t ESPN FC's Rob Dawson):

"What does the Swedish media do? They defend me, or do they jump on and attack me? They still attack me, because they cannot accept that I am Ibrahimovic.

"If another player would do same mistake I do, they would defend him. But when it comes to me, they don't defend me.

"This is about racism. This is about racism. I don't say there is racism, but I say there is undercover racism.

"This exists, I am 100 percent sure, because I am not Andersson or Svensson. If I would be that, trust me, they would defend me even if I would rob a bank. They would defend me, I tell you."

Ibrahimovic in action for Sweden at Euro 2016.
Ibrahimovic in action for Sweden at Euro 2016.Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

The veteran frontman retired from international football in 2016 after scoring 62 times in 116 appearances for Sweden, making him his country's all-time top scorer by a distance of 13 goals.

In a career spanning 19 years, Ibrahimovic has painted success wherever he's gone, winning league titles in Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands, although it looks like he'll miss out on a Premier League crown.

In addition to scoring goals in great quantity throughout his career, Ibrahimovic has also won the Guldbollen, or "Golden Ball"—handed to Sweden's best footballer—on 11 occasions, nine more than any other.

Sidelined at Old Trafford and with his United career looking likely to wind to a close at the end of this season, there's little telling what the summer holds for Ibrahimovic.