Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the start of the Italian music festival Sanremo, AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his cross-sport war of words with NBA star LeBron James and doubled down on his belief that athletes should “stick to sports.”
Speaking during a news conference, Ibrahimovic said “athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics,” according to ESPN. “Athletes unite the world, politics divide it,” he said. “Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics.”
Last week Ibrahimovic said he was not a fan of LeBron James using his star status to help further his political beliefs and that he should focus on what he is good at: basketball.
“Do what you’re good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I’m the best at playing football,” Ibrahimovic said. “I don’t do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics. That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best, because it doesn’t look good.”
James, who has made it clear he will not just “shut up and dribble” as Laura Ingraham once suggested, responded to Ibrahimovic’s first round of comments and warned he was “the wrong guy to actually go at” because he does his homework.
“I would never shut up about things that are wrong,” James said last week. “I preach about my people, and I preach about equality. Social injustice. Racism. Systematic voter suppression. Things that go on in our community. Because I was a part of my community at one point and saw the things that was going on, and I know what’s going on still because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that are going through the same thing, and they need a voice. And I’m their voice. I’m their voice, and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that may be going on, not only in my community, but around this country and around the world. So, there’s no way I would ever just stick to sports, because I understand how this platform and how powerful my voice is. “
James has yet to respond to Ibrahimovic’s second round of comments, but it seems likely the reigning NBA champ will fire back again if he is asked.