The World Cup is getting close and even if we Italians may still be in denial about the fact that the Azzurri will be watching it from home, the greatest show on Earth will still take place. In our “Meanwhile In Moscow” column, Swedish correspondent Arjun Sethi reminds us about some other big name who will not go to Russia: Zlatan Ibrahimović, or simply Ibra.
Feature Photo: AFP
In Sweden, people stand in line, don’t make eye contact, follow the rules and suffer from severe anxiety if you ask them to do something that goes 1 cm beyond their stated job responsibilities. If a Swedish person owes you 5 kronas (approx 50 euro cent), you can be sure that you will have that copper coin back within 48 hours. However, if you owe a Swedish the same amount, you better be prepared to pay up – because they will not forget about it. Which is fair, I guess.
The Swedish society is so perfect that you start feeling robotic and out of touch with the real world – a world where millions of people still don’t have access to clean water or know where their next meal will come from.
This is where Zlatan Ibrahimović aka Ibracadabra aka Ibra comes in. Ibra, standing at 195 cms, and blessed with world-class technical ability, reminds us with his flair that we are still humans and not mass-produced robots. This is why he enjoys his cult status across the globe. But, unfortunately, despite achieving such heights in his professional career, he still hasn’t won the hearts of all Swedish people. He never fitted in, and most probably, due to his personality and playing style, never will.
Still, the current strike force of the Swedish national team is a disgrace – if you compare them with him. Ibra comes with 30 and more titles, experiences in some of Europe’s finest clubs and not too long ago, he was still the top goalscorer for Manchester United. In the 2016-17 season, he was the chief catalyst in motivating the team to winning the Europa League, a feat which qualified Manchester United directly to the Champions League – despite finishing 6th in the Premier League.
With all due respect to other players in the Swedish team, Ibra is light years ahead of his fellow teammates heading to Russia, despite his 36 years of age.
Even if you look at his merit and current shape, the recently-signed LA Galaxy forward would still have more impact than the current Swedish strike force. What saddens a lot of football fans in Sweden, is that there wasn’t enough focus on this point in the traditional media outlets: The debate was only directed on whether he deserved to go to Russia or not.
I will leave the answer to that question to the readers. However, something that can’t be denied is that football will miss Ibra and that Sweden has, once again, allowed Orwellian football to triumph.