Stockholm, 5 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – A statue of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic that was vandalized early on Sunday has been moved from the scene to undergo repairs.
The legs of the statue were sawed off and it had toppled into a protective fence erected around the statue, that was shown by video clips and photos posted by Swedish broadcaster SVT and the Kvallsposten newspaper.
Several incidents of vandalism have occurred since November when Ibrahimovic announced that he was to buy a stake of Stockholm-based premiership club Hammarby. The move triggered angry reactions among Malmo FF fans – Ibrahimovic’s former club.
In December, part of the nose was sawed off and the golden statue was covered in silver paint.
“They’re idiots. This really sucks, this is enough,” Malmo FF sporting director Daniel Andersson said of the latest incident.
The words “Remove it” were sprayed on the ground next to the statue, and a black T-shirt had been placed over the head.
Frida Trollmyr, who chairs Malmo city’s leisure and recreation committee, said in a statement that she understood that fans were upset but “vandalizing a statue is simply unworthy.”
Trollmyr of the Social Democats said that a citizens’ initiative calling for the removal of the statue would be discussed in a month or so.
Shortly before midday on Sunday, the statue was lifted onto a truck and transported from its site, adjacent to Malmo stadium.
The incident was believed to have taken place in the early hours of the morning.
Police said they are investigating the incident but have no suspects.
The 3-metre high statue was erected in October.
Sculptor Peter Linde said the city of Malmo has to do more to protect the statue – if it is to remain at its current location.
Linde said it “hurt” every time the statue was damaged, he said according to Kvallsposten.
Hakan Sjostrand, general secretary of the Swedish Football Association, said the indicent was “saddening.”
“Zlatan is our greatest player ever and what he has achieved during his career is a symbol for so many,” he told the website Fotballskanalen.
Ibrahimovic, 38, recently signed a six-month contract with Italy’s AC Milan after two seasons with Los Angeles Galaxy in the US league MLS.
US group Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) owns LA Galaxy and part of Hammarby Fotboll AB. Ibrahimovic was to buy half of AEG’s stake in Hammarby.