PARIS — On Feb. 16, soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic removed his shirt after scoring the tying goal for his French based football club, Paris Saint-Germain. This is a common celebration in soccer but it was what was underneath that caught people’s attention.
Written on Ibrahimovic’s torso were the names of 50 people who have suffered from hunger and received aid from the World Food Programme. These names acted as a symbol to represent the 80 million people in the world presently receiving assistance from the WFP but, more importantly, to remind those watching that there are still 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world. According to the Gaurdian, Ibrahimovic received a yellow card and was suspended as a result, missing the team’s match against Monaco.
Although penalized with a yellow card for the incident, Ibrahimovic does not regret the action he took on behalf of the WFP. Ibrahimovic spoke at a press conference the day after the incident. “I have supporters all over the world. From now on I want this support to go to the people who suffer from hunger, they are the real champions. So whenever you hear my name, you will think of their names.”
The idea came about as a result of WFP director Marina Catena’s desire to spread the message “in a simple way, beyond any barrier.” Ibrahimovic was brought up during the brainstorming process with Catena and the WFP due to his popularity. As a well known soccer player, Ibrahimovic is frequently asked for his autograph. It was this observation that inspired the rest of the plan.
While Catena and the WFP were discussing Ibrahimovic, they thought of autographing the star soccer player’s body with the names of 50 people who currently receive aid from the WFP or what Ibrahimovic would later describe as “the real champions.” The WFP received assistance with the execution of this plan from Ibrahimovic’s team Paris Saint-Germain which is also committed to its own humanitarian efforts.
The Paris Saint-Germain Foundation began in 2000. The Foundation’s varying projects help approximately 10,000 children annually throughout Paris and its surrounding suburbs. The President of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi spoke about the teams support for Ibrahimovic. “We wish that the values of solidarity and help that are [the]foundations of our team are also shared towards people in greater needs. ‘Dream bigger’ is PSG’s motto.”
Other contributing companies included Forsman & Bodenfors advertising agency and film production company Newland, as well media integration agency Matter. The project also received additional pro-bono support from Be On/AOL and Lundgren & Lindqvist.
In the words of WFP Director Catena, “Each one of the 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world has a name, a voice, a story to share.” Some of these names temporarily tattooed on Ibrahimivoc’s body included Carmen, Mariko, Antoine, Sawsan, Chheuy, Lida, Siatta, Rahma and Yaae.
– Christopher Kolezynski