Swedish professional football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces a fine of €50,000 for his reported ownership of a 10% stake in Bethard, a sports betting operator licensed in Sweden and Spain that also offers online casino games. Ibrahimovic plays as a striker for Sweden's national football team and for the Serie A club AC Milan. The club likewise has been fined, this time for €25,000.
In April 2021, UEFA began investigating allegations about Ibrahimovic's financial involvement with Bethard.
Rules established by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) forbid players from having financial interests in gambling entities. Violating these rules can result not only in fines, but also in bans from playing for up to three years.
In particular, Ibrahimovic was found to have gone against Article 12(2)(b) of the EUFA Disciplinary Regulations. AC Milan was likewise fined for violating the same rule, in connection with Article 8 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations. Ibrahimovic also received a directive from the UEFA Appeals Body to end his association with Bethard.
Ibrahimovic's company, Unknown AB, purportedly owns shares in Bethard. Unknown AB has its headquarters in Stockholm and operates in the business services sector.
From its start as an online sportsbook in 2021, Bethard expanded its operations by opening an online casino in 2015. Sports betting, live betting, fantasy sports, and a wide selection of online and live casino games are all on offer by this Internet gambling site.
In May 2021, Bethard agreed to be acquired by the Esports Entertainment Group in which the latter will pay €16 million in cash and take part in a 12% net gaming revenue share for two years. Esports Entertainment benefits from the deal by gaining two new gaming licenses, which includes the strategically significant Swedish market.
The purchase of Bethard by Esports Entertainment would open the possibility of Ibrahimovic relinquishing his Bethard stake.
Born in Malmö in southern Sweden on October 3, 1981, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is among a number of football players who enjoy gambling. He plays poker games regularly and even has a tattoo of the ace of hearts and the ace of clubs, which can be interpreted as Pocket Aces, the best hand in Texas Hold'em.
In 2015, Ibrahimovic was reported to have turned down a sponsorship offer from PokerStars. The contract would have had him become one of the online poker site's ambassadors. It would have also added €3-4 million a year to his earnings.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed up for only a six-month contract with AC Milan in 2019. However, because of his exceptional performance during that period, which included 10 goals in 18 league games, he was offered an extension.
He signed a new deal with AC Milan in April 2021, around the same time that UEFA started its investigation of his Bethard involvement. Ibrahimovic's contract with AC Milan runs until the summer of 2022. In addition to hoping for a Serie A title, Ibrahimovic also plans to play at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.