Soccer star celebrates goal in the least selfish way possible

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović is working with the World Food Programme's '805 Million Names' campaign to end global food insecurity.

Zlatan Ibrahimović stands six feet five inches tall and weighs 209 pounds. In his 16-year professional soccer career he has tallied 327 goals in 603 matches for seven clubs in five  countries. But for the high-flying sensation all those statistics are meaningless compared with this one: 805 million people across the globe suffer from hunger.

In the second minute of a French league match, the Paris Saint-Germain striker scored in spectacular fashion, outleaping two defenders before driving the ball into the back of the net. The home crowd of 48,000 fans let out a deafening roar—this was what they'd paid to see. After his teammates congratulated him, Ibrahimović removed his jersey, stretched out his arms, and presented his tattooed body to the spectators as they fell silent.

Though he’s known for his selfish, over-the-top celebrations, this wasn’t one of them. He had temporarily tattooed all across his body the names of 50 people currently being fed by the United Nations World Food Programme. It was a coordinated effort with the WFP to kick off its new campaign, “805 Million Names.”

“I have supporters all over the world. From now on I want this support to go to the people who suffer from hunger—they are the real champions. So whenever you hear my name, you will think of their names,” Ibrahimović said at Paris Saint-Germain headquarters at a news conference launching the campaign.

According to a press release, the campaign is built around the 50 names representative of the 80 million people WFP is assisting in crises in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Bolivia, Cambodia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Ebola-affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

“Each one of the 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world has a name, a voice, a story to share,” Marina Catena, WFP's director for France, said. “Zlatan accepted the challenge and wished to carry their stories on his own skin so that the world does not forget them.”  

Though Ibrahimović’s gesture cost him a yellow card, his club stood behind him: Its affiliated charity, the Paris Saint-Germain Foundation, has pledged to donate an undisclosed amount to the campaign.

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