Less than a week after Zlatan Ibrahimovic said LeBron James should “do what you’re good at” and stay out of politics, the Swedish soccer player doubled down on his criticism Tuesday and continued to push the notion that athletes should just be athletes.
“Athletes unite the world, politics divide it,” Ibrahimovic said at a news conference, per ESPN. “Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics.”
During an interview for Discovery+ in Sweden, Ibrahimovic said he didn’t like that James was using his celebrity to “go and do politics at the same time.”
“Do what you’re good at. Do the category you do,” he said. “I play football because I’m the best at playing football. I don’t do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics.
“That is the big 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 has been a prominent advocate for racial justice throughout his 18-year NBA career. He was an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump and has never shied away from expressing his political opinions.
Additionally, the four-time NBA champion has focused on police brutality. After Jacob Blake was shot by police in Wisconsin last summer, James sought advice from former President Barack Obama.
Following the Lakers’ win over the Trail Blazers at the end of February, James addressed Ibrahimovic’s comments, saying he wouldn’t take the unsolicited advice and mentioned that he had a responsibility to “preach about equality.”
“I preach about my people, and I preach about equality,” James told reporters. “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.”