There Are Names No One Cheers For: Ibrahimović's Tats For World Hunger

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When he peeled off his shirt after scoring in a big game last weekend, renowned Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović, who plays for the French club Paris Saint-Germain as well as the Swedish national team, got both a penalty for the now-banned flashy move and a whole lot of attention for the estimated 805 million hungry people in the world - 50 of whose names he'd temporarily tattooed on his body. The move was part of a campaign by the United Nations World Food Program, which each year helps over 80 million hungry victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters, many of them children. In a dramatic video to help launch the campaign, Ibrahimović repeatedly declares, "805 million people are suffering from hunger in the world today," adding, "Make sure the world knows."

Though Ibrahimović serves as an ambassador for the program and reportedly does other humanitarian work, this is the first time he's taken a public stance for that work. "If I could, I would write every single name on my body," he said, calling the 50 names "people I never met, but still want to keep close." Acknowledging the attention he receives around the world, he hoped of his fans that, "whenever you hear my name, you will think of their names." The move by an athlete known for both his impressive prowess and ego to "offer up his well-paid, well-fed flesh to be carved with the suffering of poor, starving humans" was lambasted by some as "narcissistic nuclear fission" by "a short-term messiah of altruism" and "the ultimate armchair activist." Then again, it remains unclear just what critics are themselves doing to combat world hunger. When he revealed his tattoos at the game, Ibrahimović was issued a yellow card and one-game suspension for "unsportsmanlike behavior" - which seems like a pretty good way to describe a rich world ignoring the suffering of the poor.


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