Football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic has leant his weight to a campaign promoting respect for distancing rules and wearing a mask, telling fans not to “challenge the virus” in a video released Thursday by the Lombardy region.
The former Sweden striker, who plays for AC Milan, tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago but has now recovered and is back playing in Serie A where he is the top goalscorer.
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“The virus challenged me and I defeated it,” he says in Italian. “But you are not Zlatan. Do not challenge the virus. Use your head, respect the rules. Social distancing and masks, always. We will win.”
The video, filmed on a terrace overlooking Milan, closes with Ibrahimovic donning a mask.
“The idea of involving Ibra came to me the night of the derby (when the 39-year-old scored twice in a 2-1 win over Inter Milan),” said Attilio Fontana, the governor of Lombardy. “Zlatan was back on the pitch after recovering and at that point I thought that he could have helped us launch an important message.
“He accepted the proposal immediately, showing great sensitivity and absolute willingness, and for that I thank him.”
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Like its European neighbours, Italy, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, has suffered a sharp increase in cases in recent weeks.
The country has recorded nearly 38,000 deaths with more than 550,000 cases since the end of February.
Zlatan also launched a fundraiser for Italian hospitals dealing with coronavirus cases earlier this year.
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