Ibrahimovic courts Covid-19 controversy during Milan's lockdown

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was again in the headlines for non-football reasons yesterday, after he was reportedly pictured in a Milan restaurant while the city was in a coronavirus lockdown.

Italian news website Fanpage published photos it says were taken at lunchtime last Sunday of the AC Milan forward with friends, all without masks and surrounded by wine glasses, in the restaurant, which should have been closed to diners.

Last Sunday was the last day of lockdown in the Lombardy region where Milan is located and several other regions with improving Covid-19 statistics.

A source from Ibrahimovic's entourage claimed to AFP that the Swede was there for a "work meeting", while the restaurant's owner Tano Simonato told Fanpage that the group had not eaten in the restaurant.

"They didn't eat, as friends we had a glass of wine," Fanpage quoted Simonato as saying.

The photos caused controversy also because in the autumn Ibrahimovic, who contracted Covid-19 last September, promoted social distancing and mask wearing for the Lombardy regional government.

Last month, he co-hosted Italy's Sanremo music festival and in January was accused of racism after taunting Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku by evoking voodooism.

He also got into a spat with basketball star LeBron James in February when he said athletes should "stay out" of politics, mentioning James by name and calling him out over his political activism. - AFP