By June, sports fans all over the world are going to start seeing a lot more of Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The striker—and his world-famous ego—will be the global face of Visa’s marketing campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the payments giant announced on Tuesday.
Ibrahimovic, 36, who has just begun a two-year contract to play for the LA Galaxy after playing with Manchester United, will represent Sweden at the World Cup in Russia, which begins in June. Last month, he bought a full-page ad in the L.A. Times to announce his move to the Galaxy, saying only: “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome.”
— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) March 23, 2018
Visa, in a press release, says that Ibrahimovic, “embodies the global nature of the brand” because he has played soccer in seven countries and speaks five languages. Visa’s marketing tag line, of course, is “Everywhere you want to be.”
Ibrahimovic, for his part, says, “Of course Visa approached me to partner with them, I’m Zlatan. I’m the best on the field, and as the leader in payments, Visa is the best off the field.” The quote is no surprise from the man whose bestselling 2013 memoir was titled, “I Am Zlatan,” whose 2014 “Dare to Zlatan” Nike ad campaign showed him kicking soccer balls into volcanoes (he is no longer with Nike), or who posted a photo of himself as Jesus Christ armwrestling Satan on his Facebook page. In a post last year promoting his A-Z sportswear line, he wrote, “Focus on how good it looks on me and how good it would look on you.” Ego is Zlatan’s brand.
He is reportedly making $1.5 million per year playing for the Galaxy—a stunning 95% pay cut from his salary with Manchester United. The financial terms of his new Visa sponsorship were not publicly disclosed. He also has endorsement deals with Samsung, Volvo, BetHard.com, A-Z sportswear, and Vitamin Well.
In a promo spot for the Visa campaign, Ibrahimovic holds up a jersey on which he has changed the ‘s’ in VISA to a ‘z,’ and says, “Zlatanized.” The gag is fitting of the star’s image.
Ibrahimovic is expected to represent Sweden at the World Cup, though he has not yet firmly announced he will play.