Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s statue in Malmo to be relocated after repeated acts of vandalism

The bronze statue has been sprayed with paint, had its nose cut, been sawn off at the ankles and overturned

FILE - In this Sunday Jan. 5, 2020 file photo, the damaged statue of soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic next to Stadion football arena in Malmo, Sweden.  Media reports say the city of Malmo has had enough of repeated acts of vandalism on Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s statue outside the local football club’s stadium and is set to move it to a new location. The Sydsvenskan newspaper said the municipal council in Sweden’s third largest city is poised to make a decision on Monday, May 17, 2020 and is seeking suggestions from top-flight team Malmo FF as to where the statue should be moved later in the year.(Johan Nilsson/TT via AP, file)
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The city of Malmo wants Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s statue outside the local football club’s stadium transferred to a new location after repeated acts of vandalism.

The Sydsvenskan newspaper reported on Saturday that the municipal council in Sweden's third largest city is set to make a decision on Monday and is seeking suggestions from top-flight team Malmo FF as to where the statue should be moved to later in the year.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Anders Malmstrom, City of Malmo's media spokesman, confirmed the plan. He said a council working committee will propose on Monday that "the statue should stay in Malmo but get a different location than at the (Swedbank) Stadium."

The club's CEO Niclas Carlnen told the Sydsvenskan newspaper he wasn't aware of the city's plans and wouldn't comment on the matter. Malmstrom did not say whether the Malmo club had been briefed on the issue.

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The 500kg bronze statue of Ibrahimovic, who now plays for AC Milan, was unveiled in October to much fanfare outside Malmo’s stadium, commemorating one of Sweden’s greatest sports stars.

Created by sculptor Peter Linde, the statue is three metres tall and shows the football star standing bare chested with open arms.

It cost $50,000 (Dh183,000) to make, with maintenance costs paid by the city of Malmo.

The statue has been vandalised numerous times. It has been sprayed with paint and messages, had its nose cut, been sawn off at the ankles and overturned.

The vandalism began after it was revealed that Ibrahimovic had become a part-owner in Hammarby IF, a Stockholm-based club and a rival to Malmo.

Ibrahimovic, 38, began his career with Malmo in the late 1990s in the city where he was born.

The statue, excluding its red granite feet, was removed in early January for repairs and has been kept in a secret location ever since.

Fans and foes have suggested it should be relocated to Stockholm, where Ibrahimovic owns property and where the Swedish football association, which commissioned the statue, is based.