Ibrahimovic unimpressed by LeBron James' political activism


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Round of 32 Second Leg - AC Milan v Crvena Zvezda - San Siro, Milan, Italy - February 25, 2021 AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

(Reuters) - AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said sportspeople like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James should quit sticking their nose into politics.

Four-time NBA champion James, who Ibrahimovic described as a phenomenal basketball player, has been one of the NBA's leading voices against racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S..

A frequent critic of former U.S. President Donald Trump, James also helped form a group aimed at battling voter disenfranchisement in predominantly Black communities last year.

"I like him (James) a lot. He's phenomenal, but I don't like when people with a status speak about politics. Do what you're good at doing," Ibrahimovic told UEFA and Discovery+ in Sweden.

"I play football because I'm the best playing football, I'm no politician. If I'd been a politician, I would be doing politics.

"This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous: for me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you're good doing, otherwise you risk doing something wrongly."

James' longtime activism on racial justice issues and his criticism of Trump prompted white Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham in 2018 to tell him and fellow Black NBA player Kevin Durant to "shut up and dribble."

Ibrahimovic's comments were criticised by American sprint great Michael Johnson.

"Okay Ibra, based on your position @KingJames is great at basketball and shouldn't voice his opinion about politics," Johnson tweeted.

"You're really good at football so you shouldn't voice your opinion about LeBron using his platform for good. Or your opinion on anything outside football!"

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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