Last week, Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and teammate Gerard Pique set off a media frenzy in Europe when a picture surfaced of the Barca duo in an apparent moment of off-field tenderness. The impromptu snap quickly made the rounds in Spain faster than seventh-grade gossip. A Facebook page dedicated to the alleged striker-on-defender love snap got tens of thousands of fans in mere days. The image in question — two male football players discussing game-day tactics/interior design tips — took on a life of its own. So naturally Spanish TV show Sálvame dispatched curvy brunette reporter Laura Lago to get to the bottom of things.
In the video below, Ibrahimovic, who plays internationally for Sweden but spent years toiling for Inter Milan, addresses the female reporter’s question in Italian with a Silvio Berlusconi-worthy one-liner that translates roughly into, “Come over to the crib with your sister, baby, and I’ll-a-show-you who’s-a-gay!” Lago sort of laughs it off on camera, though she does seem a bit flustered by the Swede’s reply.
While the whole thing is a silly byproduct of the football media hurricane gaining steam as the heated Spanish first division title wraps up next week and the World Cup approaches (it starts exactly one month from tomorrow), it’s interesting to note that the always-on-point New York Times ran a piece last Friday on the changing mores of gay men in sports without a single mention of the Barcelona affair brewing across the Atlantic — perhaps their vision clouded by volcanic smoke. Then again, this is the same paper that lets a clueless baseball writer like George Vecsey blather about el soccer, so I’m not expecting much incisive coverage. Catch the exciting conclusion to the La Liga Championship and Pique and Ibra’s on-field chemistry next Sunday when Barcelona takes on Valladolid.