Lawyers for footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic claimed Monday that the former coach of Sweden's athletics team slandered the footballer during a one-day trial in a Swedish court.
Ibrahimovic, who did not appear at the district court in Karlstad, had sued Ulf Karlsson over controversial remarks suggesting the striker doped to increase muscle during a debate on doping in sports in April.
“Ulf Karlsson should be considered to have extensive knowledge about doping,” Ibrahimovic’s lawyer Nils Petersen said in his closing argument, citing Karlsson's long experience as a coach.
Karlsson's remarks implied that the player had doped during his stint at Italian side Juventus (2004-2006), and were to be labelled as "gross" slander, Petersen said, citing the wide dissemination of the remarks.
As part of their evidence, Ibrahimovic’s attorneys presented screen dumps and searches on the internet showing scores of articles published in Sweden and abroad with mention of Karlsson’s remarks.
The trial was adjourned several times as the judge and three lay judges considered arguments presented by the wrangling sides.
Karlsson’s lawyer Johan Eriksson argued that part of the case were covered by freedom of speech legislation, an argument Ibrahimovic’s lawyers rejected - as did the court.
During testimony, Karlsson denied the allegations of slander and said he had not fingered the 35-year-old striker or even “insinuated” he was guilty of doping.
Both sides cited a video recording of the April discussion, which was also played at the court.
During the trial, a reporter with the local newspaper Nya Wermlands-Tidningen, who interviewed Karlsson after the debate also gave testimony. His article was picked up by other media outlets.
Ibrahimovic, who plays for Manchester United, has never tested positive for doping.
The footballer's lawyers requested that Karlsson, if convicted, should be ordered to pay the trial costs but the player was not seeking damages. Gross slander can render a fine or a two-year prison term.
Karlsson's lawyer argued his client should be cleared and questioned the sums filed by Ibrahimovic's legal team.
The court's ruling was due January 9, the judge said.
The trial was streamed on Swedish public radio and several newspapers reported live from the court room.