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Zlatan Ibrahimovic statue vandalized

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A statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his homeland of Sweden has been vandalized.

After Zlatan became an investor in Swedish side Hammarby by buying a 25 percent stake, fans of their rivals Malmo — Zlatan’s boyhood club which also gave him his breakthrough in the professional game — damaged the statue at their stadium.

The statue of Zlatan outside Malmo’s stadium was only unveiled last month, but the 38-year-old has decided to invest in Stockholm based Hammarby and called them a “one of the most interesting and influential clubs in Sweden.”

A toilet seat was place on the arm of the statue, plus a plastic bag was put over its head, a fire was lit underneath it and vandals spray-painted derogatory messages across it. Security staff have been placed surrounding the statue, while reports state that one of Zlatan’s properties in Stockholm has also been damaged after his investment in Hammarby was announced.

His stake in Hammarby comes alongside AEG’s investment in the club, as AEG also own his most recent club, the LA Galaxy.

The former Galaxy, Manchester United, PSG, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and Ajax forward is now looking for a new club and has said he will not be returning to the Swedish top-flight to play.

Safe to say, he won’t be playing for Malmo anytime soon. Actually, tile that one under never.

Ostersund denied license to play in Sweden’s top league

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OSTERSUND, Sweden — Swedish soccer team Ostersund has been denied a license to play in the top division next season because of its financial problems.

The Swedish Football Association says its licensing board has decided Ostersund “does not meet the elite licensing criteria … for continued operation throughout the next year.”

Ostersund says it will appeal against the ruling, which was announced on Tuesday. As it stands, the club will play in the third-tier Division I in 2020.

Ostersund recently said it needed to raise 10 million kronor ($1 million) to pay creditors and tax authorities in order to continue operating.

The club from central Sweden rose from the amateur ranks in 2011 to the top league in 2015, and won the Swedish Cup in 2017. That qualified Ostersund for the Europa League, where it advanced to the knockout stage before losing to Arsenal despite winning the second leg 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.

Having its license denied is the latest blow to Ostersund after its former chairman, Daniel Kindberg, the man regarded as the mastermind behind the club’s rise, was sentenced this month to three years in prison after being convicted of serious financial crimes. Kindberg is appealing against the conviction.

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Chairman of Swedish club Ostersund appeals against conviction

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OSTERSUND, Sweden — The former chairman of Swedish soccer club Ostersund has appealed against his conviction for serious financial crimes.

Daniel Kindberg was sentenced on Nov. 5 to three years in prison, banned from doing business for five years and ordered to pay damages after being found guilty of funneling millions of kronor in taxpayer money into Ostersund. The scheme involved two other men and three companies, one being the Ostersund municipality’s housing corporation for which Kindberg was chief executive.

Kindberg said immediately after the verdict was handed down that he would appeal, describing it as “a legal scandal.” His defense lawyer, Olle Kullinger, says the appeal was submitted this week and will be heard in the Court of Appeal in Sundsvall, likely next year.

Kulllinger said Kindberg is appealing against the conviction, the damages, and “regarding all points of the indictment.”

Ostersund, which plays in Sweden’s top league, will not be facing any sanctions from the Swedish soccer association following Kindberg’s conviction.

UEFA investigates player’s claim of racial abuse in Romania

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NYON, Switzerland — UEFA has called for further investigations into allegations by a Sweden player he was racially abused by Romania fans at a European Championship qualifying game.

After Alexander Isak reported his claim to the match referee last Friday, play in Sweden’s 2-0 win was briefly stopped to broadcast a warning to fans in Bucharest. The stadium will host four Euro 2020 games in June.

[READ: How the USMNT found and kept Sergino Dest]

UEFA says it opened a disciplinary investigation, and also charged Romania’s soccer federation for separate incidents of an alleged “illicit banner” and “illicit chants.” Those charges will be judged on Dec. 12.

Romania faces more severe UEFA action because it was already under one year’s probation for previous incidents of offensive fan behavior.

Only accompanied children were allowed to attend Romania’s home qualifier against Norway last month.

The next UEFA punishment could affect Romania’s next game in the Euro 2020 playoffs round in March.

EURO 2020: Spain, Sweden finish top; Norway, Romania reach playoffs

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MADRID — Spain finished its qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a 5-0 rout of Romania in what could have been the farewell match for coach Robert Moreno on Monday.

Moreno did not show for the post-match interview and there were widespread reports in Spanish media he would not continue at the helm of “La Roja.”

The Spanish soccer federation did not immediately say why the coach did not talk to the media. It said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

Moreno took over the job after Luis Enrique resigned in March to take care of his sick daughter. Moreno had been Luis Enrique’s assistant until then.

Gerard Moreno scored twice for the hosts, who had already secured a spot in the tournament but needed the victory to be among the top-seeded teams in the draw this month.

Spain also got on the scoreboard through Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, and an own-goal by Romanian defender Adrian Rus.

“It was important to finish with the three points in front of our crowd,” said Ruiz, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We need to keep this same dynamic going into the Euros next year.”

Spain ended as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws, at Norway and Sweden. “La Roja” finished five points in front of second-placed Sweden.

Romania, which had already been eliminated, ended in fourth place with four victories and two draws in 10 matches.

Spain, coming off routing Malta 7-0 in Cadiz, outscored its opponents 31-5.

It was in control from the start on Monday, with Romania threatening only a few times in front of a crowd of 36,198 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, including many Romanians.

Ruiz opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, and Moreno added his goals with a header in the 33rd and strike from the six-yard line in the 43rd.

Rus found his own net while trying to intercept a cross into the area in first-half stoppage time, and Oyarzabal closed the scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the box in second-half injury time.

It was the second Spain match at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium, the other a 6-1 rout of Argentina ahead of last year’s World Cup.