Paris Saint-Germain's star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be well known to many England #Football fans, particularly for his amazing quadruple goal spree against the national side, during a friendly match for Sweden back in 2012. Judging by his display during the league match between his French employers and Caen at the weekend, where he took his shirt off in the early stages and was yellow-carded for his troubles, it seems that he also has a soft spot for raising awareness for aid charities such as the World Food Programme. His explanation afterwards for the action, which allowed him to display to a large television audience his heavily tattooed body, was so that he could show off the temporary tattoos he had added to his chest, that represented the names of 50 starving #Children in the world.
The World Food Programme have posted a video that further develops the story, designed to highlight the plight of around 850 million people across the world who are without food. They are hoping that through the association with high profile stars such as Ibrahimovic, they can gain support for their worthy cause and amibitions. The WFP forms a branch of the United Nations and is the world's largest humanitarian organisation, set up to address hunger and to promote food security. In a typical year, they would aim to provide food to around 90 million people, 58 million of whom are children. It is based in Rome with over 80 offices located in countries around the world, with its raison d'etre being to help people who are not able to produce or obtain by other legitimate means sufficient food to support both themselves and their families.
Although the Swedish football star has removed the temporary tattoos since, he wants people to support the WFP and to remember the people who are still without food around the world. His actions have been supported by some of his PSG teammates, with David Luiz taking to social media to demonstrate his backing for the appeal. He suggested that the fans: "Make sure that the world knows and support them as support me!"
Ibrahimovic's manager at PSG was less agreeable to the concept, although he was aware of the player's support for the WFP. Laurent Blanc did not want his player to keep removing his shirt in future and thereby earning a yellow card each time, due to the risk of suspension, especially if he were to gain another yellow card during the match and consequently be sent off. That has indeed occurred in other matches in the past, where players have forgotten that they already had a yellow card, then taken their shirt off in celebration and been sent off shortly after.
His decision has achieved its initial aim to get people discussing the cause and the work that the WFP do, but from a football point of view could impact his club in the run-in to the end of the season, if he subsequently picks up sufficient bookings to result in suspension. It also raises the consideration of whether footballers should be taking such personal stands within the confines of a match, although from the humanitarian point of view, there are many who would argue that a player should not be booked for such action. Yet if they are not booked just because it is in support of a cause that they feel strongly about, it opens up the door for other players to take advantage themselves.