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Irreverent, controversial, and talented. That’s Zlatan Ibrahimović. A Swedish soccer legend and one of the best players of his time. But Ibrahimović also transcended the playing field, not because of extra-football scandals, but because of his personality. Zlatan is a controversial character when it comes to speaking out, either because of his overconfidence — or arrogance, as you prefer — or because of his sincerity in speaking his mind.
This time he talked about NBA star LeBron James: another historic sports figure, whose political activism has caused controversies.
Zlatan did not miss the opportunity to show his sporting admiration for James, but he also didn’t forget to lash out at him, explaining that he doesn’t like LeBron meddling in political issues.
The context of Zlatan’s criticism
LeBron is an outspoken supporter of the leftist Black Lives Matter (BLM) political movement. He even went so far as to call the BLM a “lifestyle,” and said that those who are not black cannot understand it.
“When you wake up in the morning and you’re black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are […] I don’t like the world ‘movement’ because, unfortunately, in America and in society, there ain’t been no damn movement for us. There ain’t been no movement.”
At the same time, LeBron has never hidden his preference for the leftists policies, as he has publicly declared support for the Democratic Party.
According to NBA news outlet Nbamaniacs, LeBron James “recently launched More than a Vote, an initiative to resurrect the black vote in the upcoming election, so that it could make a difference in getting Donald Trump out of the White House.”
Many have lambasted the basketball player for his alleged anti-racist activism because he is supporting a cause that carries political agenda and uses racial taint to grow politically and economically, such as BLM.
In addition, LeBron was also singled out as a hypocrite. For, on one occasion, he criticized Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey because he raised his voice in favor of Hong Kong freedom.
After the NBA leader came out in support of the Hong Kong democracy movement, China attacked the world’s most famous basketball league.
LeBron, who has championed social justice causes, did not support Hong Kong, but criticized Morey with words that ended up being supportive of the Chinese regime.
“I don’t want to get into a verbal dispute with Daryl Morey. But I think he didn’t know enough about the situation at hand, and he spoke out. Either he was misinformed or he didn’t know enough about the issue,” LeBron said before a preseason game the Lakers against the Warriors.
“A lot of people could have been hurt not only financially, but physically, emotionally and spiritually, so we have to be careful what we tweet, say and do,” the basketball player said. “Yes, we have freedom of speech, but there can also be a lot of negative things that come with that.”
These situations have earned LeBron James criticism, while, Zlatan Ibrahimović, did not miss the opportunity to make his position clear.
“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,” Zlatan said. “Do what you’re good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football.” Zlatan said on LeBron James’ political activism.
“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,” Zlatan added.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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