Footballer Ibrahimovic raises funds for hungry with chest 'tattoos'

Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:14pm EST
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By Chris Arsenault

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Recruiting Zlatan Ibrahimovic to draw attention to world hunger paid off for the U.N. World Food Programme when a video of the footballer with the names of people who don’t get enough to eat inked on his torso went viral on Monday.

After scoring a goal just 72 seconds into a French league match on Saturday, the Paris St Germain striker stripped off his shirt to reveal the names of 50 hungry people on his torso, kicking off a WFP campaign and earning himself a yellow card in the process.

"I have supporters all over the world," Ibrahimovic said in the slick online video produced by a Swedish ad agency. "Beginning today, I want this support to go to the people who really need it."

The United Nations estimates that 805 million people, one ninth of the world's population, don’t get enough to eat.

The WFP is feeding about 80 million of them in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Ebola-hit countries of West Africa and elsewhere.

More than 1.2 million people had seen the video by early afternoon Monday European time, and activists hope this new awareness of hunger will bring more donations for aid groups stretched by the increasing number of conflicts round the world.

"The response has been much larger than we expected – it's amazing," Marina Catena, the WFP official leading the campaign, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Finding the names of hungry people to ink on Ibrahimovic's torso wasn't easy at first, Catena said, as many are living in war zones or areas that are hard to reach.   Continued...

Paris St Germain (PSG) player Zlatan Ibrahimovic attends a training session ahead of their Champions League soccer match against Chelsea, at the Camp des Loges training center in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, February 16, 2015.    REUTERS/Christian Hartmann