AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic reaffirmed his belief that athletes should "stick to sports" as he addressed comments aimed at Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Speaking in a news conference Tuesday ahead of the start of the Italian music festival Sanremo, which Ibrahimovic is co-hosting, he addressed his comments.
"Athletes unite the world, politics divide it," he said. "Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics."
During an interview for UEFA for Discovery+ in Sweden on Thursday, Ibrahimovic had said: "[LeBron] is phenomenal at what he's doing, but I don't like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time.
"Do what you're good at. Do the category you do. I play football because I'm the best at playing football.
"I don't do politics. If I would be a political politician, I would do politics. That is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it. Just do what you do best, because it doesn't look good."
The comments prompted a response from James, who said he speaks "from a very educated mind, so I'm kind of the wrong guy to actually go at, because I do my homework."
Ibrahimovic also addressed his high-profile clash with Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku during their Coppa Italia quarterfinal meeting on Jan. 26, which ended with both players receiving a yellow card.
Though both men had to be restrained by their respective teammates as they traded insults, the Sweden forward said there is no bad blood between himself and his former Manchester United teammate.
"If he [Lukaku] wants to come [to Sanremo], he's welcome," Ibrahimovic added. "What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch."