BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
SWEDISH icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic has slammed the lack of security around Henrik Larsson and his son, Jordan, after the pair were targeted by masked thugs following Helsingborgs’ relegation.
The Celtic hero saw his side exit the top-flight for the first time in 23 years after succumbing to a playoff defeat against Halmstad, prompting a furious reaction from a portion of supporters.
Several fans rounded on Jordan, attempting to remove his shirt, while they were narrowly stopped from confronting Henrik amid shameful scenes at Helsingborgs’ Olympia Stadium.
Remarkably, security chief Frederik Ericsson blamed Larsson Sr for sparking the melee by confronting the supporters – prompting Sweden’s most famous export to express his outrage.
Ibrahimovic said: “I saw what happened and I have spoken to Henrik too. My first question is: where is the security?
“What happened should be impossible, especially in Sweden. This is a small, manageable country in football terms, so this should not be allowed to happen at this level. Questions need to be answered.
“Players, staff and people just doing their jobs should not be exposed to this. Football is just a game, something that should bring people together, wherever you come from, whoever you are.
“The people who went on to the field have no business in a football stadium. They can go to an Octagon ring [UFC] if they want to fight.”
Zlatan, speaking as he picked up his 10th consecutive Swedish Footballer of the Year award, also backed Larsson to bounce back from the managerial disappointment of suffering relegation.
Helsingborgs were champions of Sweden as recently as 2011 but will now be forced to battle back from the second tier.
It is unclear whether Larsson, linked with the Celtic vacancy prior to the appointment of Brendan Rodgers, will stay on to undertake that challenge, given the carnage that followed a disastrous campaign.
But Ibra told fotbollskanalen.se: “I speak to Henrik about many things and we always push and encourage each other. There is not much I can say about Helsingborgs’ struggles – it was a difficult season and it ended in relegation.
“But he is desperate to win and has plenty of confidence. He never gives up and has the drive to work until he has succeeded . . . plus he has my support, so he has nothing to worry about!”