Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be about to see his World Cup dreams dashed by a FIFA rule which prevents him from coming out of international retirement with Sweden.
The former Manchester United striker, who is now on the books of the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, has previously expressed a desire to grace this summer’s finals in Russia.
He played no part in qualification, having stepped away from the fold after Euro 2016, but is open to rejoining Janne Andersson’s ranks at the global showpiece.
Ibrahimovic has, however, recently entered into a commercial partnership with Malta-licensed gambling operator Bethard.
That association could prevent him from gracing a third World Cup, with the 36-year-old now in breach of FIFA regulations relating to betting.
Chapter four, rule 25 of FIFA’s code of ethics states: “Persons bound by this code shall be forbidden from taking part in, either directly or indirectly, or otherwise being associated with, betting, gambling, lotteries and similar events or transactions connected with football matches.
“They are forbidden from having stakes, either actively or passively, in companies, concerns, organisations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct such events on transactions.”
Ibrahimovic has claimed that “if I want to go I’m there”, as he prepares to make himself available for his country once again.
He has, however, agreed to be a Bethard ambassador, stating after that partnership was announced: “I have obviously been intensively courted by betting companies throughout my career, but up until now I have not been presented to anything that has triggered me.
“With Bethard, there was something different. It’s a company with Swedish roots, the founders are from my home town and they are true challengers who really want to do things differently.”
Ibrahimovic may have found the Bethard offer enticing, but it could now be present him with an unfortunate obstacle.
The Swedish Football Association are, however, hoping that a compromise can be reached, with general secretary Hakan Sjostrand telling Aftonbladet: “If a player advertises in different contexts, it is a completely different issue handled by the Swedish Football Association, that is, it has nothing to do with FIFA’s regulations and ethical code.
“There are two areas that are isolated from each other and handled separately.”
There is still time for a solution to be found which suits all parties, with Sweden not due to open their 2018 World Cup campaign until June 18 against South Korea.
They are also set to face Mexico and reigning champions Germany at the group stage, as they prepare to return to the grandest arena in football for the first time in 12 years.