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24 Jan, 2022 19:22

Vaccinated Zlatan weighs in on Djokovic row

The football icon got shots because 'the vaccine protects me'
Vaccinated Zlatan weighs in on Djokovic row

Embattled tennis superstar Novak Djokovic should only have taken a Covid vaccine because he felt it would protect him, Sweden football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic has argued.

Unvaccinated Djokovic found himself at the center of a diplomatic storm as the Australian government succeeded with its second attempt to cancel his visa following his arrival for the Australian Open under the belief that he would be granted a medical exemption from vaccination requirements.

The reigning champion was banished from Australia without being able to defend his title in Melbourne after Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke's intervention was controversially upheld by a court.

Former Manchester United and Inter Milan talisman Ibrahimovic believes Djokovic's predicament is an example of the need for people not to be forced into taking vaccines in order to work.

That has been a thorny topic in places such as New York, where private sector employers in the city are required to enforce a mandatory vaccination policy for workers in a country where president Joe Biden's ruling administration has repeatedly urged citizens to take shots.

"People shouldn't be forced to get vaccinated just to get to work," said Ibrahimovic, who was lauded by Djokovic as a symbol of the "Balkan mentality" last year and an example of a veteran extending their career at the top level, speaking to Le Journal du Dimanche.

"Those who get a vaccine do it because they believe in it, because they think it is effective against the disease.

"Everyone has their own opinion. I got vaccinated because I think the vaccine protects me, not to be able to play football. They are two different situations."

Former Paris Saint-Germain striker Ibrahimovic was asked why PSG have not won the Champions League yet and gave his opinions on boss Mauricio Pochettino, who is in charge of a galaxy of stars including Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack.

"Coaching and managing such a talented squad is not easy," he reasoned. "From what I can see, PSG is doing what it has to do.

"Leading the world is not done in twenty-four hours. It's a marathon with ups and downs. Chelsea took [nine years to win the Champions League] after being bought by Roman Abramovich."

The AC Milan forward had a typically self-assured soundbite to offer about a potential return to the Ligue 1 leaders, saying: "The day I want to be sporting director of PSG, I will be."