Zlatan Ibrahimovic: LeBron James, Other Athletes Should 'Do What You're Good At,' Stay Out of Politics


Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn't believe Lakers star LeBron James and other athletes should engage in politics, saying in a recent interview that they should "stay out of it." 

"[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," Ibrahimovic told Discovery+ in Sweden. "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 big 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."

Throughout his career, James has frequently advocated for racial justice. An outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, the Lakers forward hasn't shied from expressing political opinions

James has especially focused his activism on police brutality and racial injustice, such as after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last summer, when he sought advice from former President Obama as NBA players considered how to respond. 

"I'm smart enough to know that even though we're playing a game of basketball that there's so much more that's going on in the world," James said in January after a Wisconsin prosecutor declined to bring charges against the officer. 

"We got to continue to stay strong, got to continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater of change and the greater good."

The Lakers forward has also repeatedly spoken out and demonstrated against racism and police brutality, including kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustice. 

Last year, ahead of the presidential election, James launched "More Than A Vote", a nonprofit aiming to fight Black voter suppression and encourage minority voter turnout across the nation. 

The organization brought more than 42,000 volunteers to work at various polling stations during the presidential election. It also helped register voters across the country, increasing turnout among Black and young voters. 

James has also promoted social change in other ways. His I Promise School, which opened in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, in 2018, has more than 450 students. The school provides free tuition, bicycles, transportation, breakfast and lunch for students. 

Ibrahimovic, still a prolific goal scorer even at age 39, joined AC Milan in December 2019 after two seasons with LA Galaxy. Last month, after a row with Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, Ibrahimovic denied that he had made racist comments toward the Belgian forward. 

"In Zlatan's world there is no place for racism," Ibrahimovic wrote on Instagram. "We are all the same race, we are all equal."

UEFA, meanwhile, is investigating whether Ibrahimovic was a victim of racial abuse himself during AC Milan's recent Europa League match against Red Star Belgrade.