UEFA to Investigate Alleged Abuse Toward Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Balkan Roots

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2021

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks on during warm up before the Europa League round of 32 first leg soccer match between Red Star and AC Milan at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

UEFA has appointed a disciplinary investigator to review allegations AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the target of racist abuse targeting his family's Balkan roots during Thursday's Europa League match against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Red Star Belgrade could face discipline from UEFA, which holds home clubs responsible for incidents at their stadiums. The Serbian side didn't have ticketed fans for the fixture, but club officials and other guests were allowed in the stands.

Red Star issued an apology Friday, saying the club would work to identify the man shown on video shouting a derogatory term used toward Muslims at Ibrahimovic:

"As a club, we have done everything to ensure that the organization of the match was up to the level of the two big clubs, and we will not allow one primitive individual to cast a stain on the traditionally well-known hospitality of our country and our people.

"Red Star, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, will find the aforementioned individual and insist on him bearing all the consequences of such behavior."

Ibrahimovic, whose father is Muslim, hasn't publicly commented on the incident.

The 39-year-old Sweden native was an unused substitute for Milan in the 2-2 draw Thursday. He played 75 minutes in Sunday's 3-0 loss to Inter Milan in domestic Serie A play.

Milan and Red Star will play the second leg of their Europa League matchup Thursday at San Siro in Italy. The winner advances to the tournament's round of 16.

UEFA didn't provide a timetable for its investigation into the alleged abuse.