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City of Malmo set to relocate vandalized Ibrahimovic statue

The city of Malmo has had enough of the repeated acts of vandalism on soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic's statue outside the local football club's stadium and wants it transferred to a new location. The Sydsvenskan newspaper said Saturday that the municipal council in Sweden’s third largest city is poised to make a decision on Monday and is seeking suggestions from top-flight team Malmo FF as to where the statue should be moved later in the year.

In an emailed comment to The Associated Press, Anders Malmstrom, City of Malmo's media spokesman, confirmed the plan. He said a council working committee will propose Monday that “the statue should stay in Malmo but get a different location than at the (Swedbank) Stadium.”

The club's CEO Niclas Carlnen told the Sydsvenskan newspaper he wasn’t aware of the city’s plans and wouldn’t comment on the matter. Malmstrom did not say whether the Malmo club had been briefed on the issue.

The 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bronze statue of Ibrahimovic, who now plays for AC Milan, was unveiled in October to much fanfare outside Malmo's stadium, commemorating one of Sweden’s greatest sports stars.

Created by sculptor Peter Linde, the statue is three meters (9-feet-10) tall and shows the football star standing bare chested with open arms. It cost 500,000 Swedish kronor ($50,000) to make, with maintenance costs paid by the city of Malmo.

The statue has been vandalized numerous times. It has been sprayed with paint and messages, had its nose cut, been sawn off at the ankles and overturned. The vandalism began after it was revealed that Ibrahimovic had become a part-owner in Hammarby IF, a Stockholm-based club and a rival to Malmo.

Ibrahimovic, 38, began his career with Malmo in the late 1990s in the city where he was born. The statue, excluding its red granite feet, was removed in early January for repairs and has been kept in a secret location ever since.

Fans and foes have suggested it should be relocated to Stockholm, where Ibrahimovic owns property and where the Swedish soccer association, which commissioned the statue, is based. In February, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala suggested the statue could be moved to the Italian city but Malmo city politicians rejected the proposal.

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