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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit out at LeBron James for the second time in a week and told athletes to 'stay out of politics'.
NBA superstar James has been a leading figure in the fight against racial justice and police brutality, earning a Laureus World Sports Award nomination for his efforts.
His most recent bout of activism was to help voter mobilisation in November's US Presidential elections.
But Ibrahimovic, who first took a swipe at the LA Lakers icon in an interview last week, has doubled down on his criticism.
The ex-Manchester United ace was speaking ahead of the SanRemo music festival, which he is co-hosting.
He said: “Athletes unite the world, politics divide it. Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics.”
Ibrahimovic's latest outburst comes hot on the heels of his initial barb, which was directed at James last week.
“I like [James] a lot. He’s phenomenal, what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people with a status speak about politics. Do what you’re good at doing", he told Uefa and Discovery+.
“I play football because I’m the best playing at football, I don’t do politics. If I’d been a politician, I would be doing politics.
"This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous: for me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you’re good doing, otherwise you risk doing something wrongly.”
James, who has been at the forefront of the NBA's fight against racial inequality, dismissed the footballer's comments.
He said: “I will never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social justice, racism, voter suppression – things that go on in our community.
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“Because I was a part of my community at one point and saw the things that were going on, and I know what’s still going on because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that are going through the same thing and they need a voice.
“I’m their voice and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that might be going on, not only in my community but in this country and around the world.”
READ MORE: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s immediate reaction to Zlatan Ibrahimovic reunion with Man Utd
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- LeBron James
- Manchester United FC
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