AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reaffirmed his belief that athletes should “stick to sports” as he addressed comments aimed at L.A. Lakers star LeBron James.
The 39-year-old Swede has received criticism for agreeing to participate in four nights of the annual song contest in Liguria this week, as his club have Serie A fixtures on Wednesday and Sunday.
The striker, who is Milan’s top scorer this season with 14 goals in 14 league games, picked up an injury during Sunday’s 2-1 win over AS Roma that has ruled him out of this week’s fixtures, but he insisted that the festival won’t be a distraction from his day job.
Speaking in a news conference Tuesday ahead of the start of the Italian music festival Sanremo, which Ibrahimovic is co-hosting, he addressed his comment.
“Athletes unite the world, politics divide it,” he said. “Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics.”
During an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden on Thursday, Ibrahimovic had said: “[LeBron] is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time.
“Do what you’re good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football.
“I don’t do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics. That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best, because it doesn’t look good.”