Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he removed his shirt after scoring against Caen on Saturday in a bid to draw attention to world famine by displaying his new tattoos.
Ibrahimovic peeled off his shirt after his goal in the second minute for the defending French champions and was shown a yellow card for doing so. He will now miss the match against Monaco in two weeks’ time due to suspension.
“When I took my shirt off against Caen, everybody asked what these new tattoos were. I had 15 removable tattoos on my body, they are the names of real people who are suffering from hunger in the world,” Ibrahimovic said yesterday.
“[While] those tattoos have gone now, these people are still here ... I hope that you can see them through me.”
The Swede said he agreed to the venture to raise awareness for the United Nations’ World Food Programme – which fights against hunger worldwide.
“Wherever I go people recognise me, call my name, cheer me. But there are names no-one cheers for,” the colourful Sweden forward said.
“If I could, I would write every single name on my body. But there are 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world today. So whenever you hear my name, you will think of their names. Whenever you see me, you will see them.”
Marina Catena, director of the WFP in France, said that Ibrahimovic’s huge worldwide popularity made him the ideal person to work with.
“I had a dream that someone could convey this message in a simple way. We thought of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is always asked for his autograph,” Catena said. “So why shouldn’t it be Zlatan who has the autographs on his body this time? We’re proud that he accepted to convey this message.”
Ibrahimovic’s gesture was by no means the only talking point at the end of an extraordinary game against Caen, which saw PSG throw two points away in an extraordinary finish to the Ligue 1 clash. The two-time reigning champions led 2-0 with two minutes remaining but were pegged back to 2-2 and remained a point behind leaders Lyon, who were in action away to Lorient in last night’s late Ligue 1 fixture.
PSG would have leapfrogged both Lyon and Marseille to go top with victory over 14th-placed Caen and first-half goals from Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi put them on track. But they could not see out the full 90 minutes without conceding at the Parc des Princes as last-gasp goals from Emiliano Sala and substitute Herve Bazile extended Caen’s unbeaten run to a fifth game. Laurent Blanc’s men got off to the perfect start when Serge Aurier escaped down the right and his pinpoint cross was volleyed beyond Remy Vercoutre by Ibrahimovic. Aurier continued to cause problems for the Caen defence and only a smart reflex save by Vercoutre prevented Yohan Cabaye’s first-time effort from his cross doubling the score as PSG threatened to run riot early on.
The hosts were forced into an early change when Cabaye went down off the ball but that failed to knock the champions off their flow and Thiago Silva headed Lavezzi’s free-kick just wide of the post before the diminutive Argentine added a second for PSG. Lucas combined with Ibrahimovic before picking out Lavezzi on the left of the area who fired the ball across Vercoutre into the corner to round off a successful first half.
But the hosts were forced to see out the final stages with nine men when, having made all three changes, Aurier went off injured before Lucas was also forced off with another knock, which turned the game on its head.
Ibrahimovic, the club’s top scorer this season and for the past two seasons, will be back in action at Parc des Princes tomorrow night when PSG face Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.