The bloody conflict in Ukraine and international outrage over the Russian invasion led to a renewed focus on Abramovich and his ownership of Chelsea.
It’s a focus that has highlighted the conflicting friction between sport and politics: dream-full football owner Abramovich – so adored by many Chelsea fans – versus the Russian oligarch Abramovich.
Days into the war, when the West responded with sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs, Abramovich’s assets – including Chelsea – appeared increasingly vulnerable to a more punishing financial environment, and he quickly announced his plans to sell the club.
“Sure, Mr. Abramovich should not be able to own a football club in this country?” Bryant said.
Abramovich’s representative did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the oligarch’s punishment.
During the 19 years under Abramovich, the club amassed a whopping 21 trophies, according to Chelsea. After winning the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last month, Chelsea have officially won a major trophy at the club’s disposal.
Thank you, Mr. Abramovich.
It is gratitude for this golden era that fueled a sweeping wave of adulation to the few when announcing his imminent sale of the club, among fans as well as former players.
A statement from the Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST) board of directors summed up the broader outpouring of emotion among the club’s fans on social media, thanking Abramovich for his “passion, passion and dedication” during a period that was “unparalleled success”.
According to Richard Weeks, one of the founders of Chelsea fan group We Are The Shed, the “Roman Empire” helped realize the fans’ wildest dreams.
“The past 20 years have enabled Chelsea supporters to live their best lives,” Wakes told CNN before Abramovich was penalized.
“Traveling the world to win and celebrate the biggest trophies in football, you simply couldn’t ask for more, and for this reason, Roman will hold a place in the hearts of all Chelsea fans forever.
“The ending of the ‘Roman Empire’ with Chelsea as ‘world champions’ could not have been a more fitting conclusion to this chapter of our history.”
If the past 19 years have been filled with golden memories and awards after the Cup, the days and months ahead seem even more mysterious.
Amid this turmoil, the Committee on Science and Technology has called for its supporters’ voices to be heard.
“The Committee on Science and Technology is appealing to the government for a swift process to reduce uncertainty about Chelsea’s future, and for fans and fans to be awarded a gold share as part of the sale of the club.”
The sanctions also prevent the sale of the club until a special license is issued.
In his initial statement, which was posted on the club’s website before the punishment, Abramovich said the net proceeds from the sale would be donated to a foundation set up “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine”.
This statement was clearly ambiguous as to who specifically might be a victim; Abramovich’s critics noted that the wording might also allow his new foundation to support the families of Russian soldiers.
“Roman Abramovich is very sensitive to what is happening now,” Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled oligarch and critic of Putin, told CNN before the latest sanctions were announced.
I have no information, but I cannot imagine that he made any decision without first consulting with Putin.
“Regardless, that means there’s a whiff of scorched air on the horizon. What he smells is a fire burning under President Putin,” Khodorkovsky said, referring to Abramovich’s plans to sell Chelsea.
The administration was asked to name the companies and individuals and consider whether to sanction them under legislation aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights abuses, the annexation of Crimea, and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine. .
Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev said in a Facebook post at the time that the list, which includes Abramovich, read as if the United States had “simply rewrote the Kremlin’s phone book.”
But if Abramovich’s current wealth and apparent security in Russia reflect an affinity with Putin, that may be what put him at risk with the UK government.
While Wikes admitted that the status of the next owner as an oligarch played on his mind in 2003, he added that fans would have little power to reverse the acquisition regardless of their feelings.
Wikes said: “Chelsea fans didn’t choose to be bought, and any backtracking is unlikely to change the decision at the time had we stopped thinking about the morals behind it.
“People today are more willing to look at things a little deeper, understand right from wrong, and in terms of a football club, they want to know that whoever represents their team fits their ideologies and beliefs. That is a good thing.
“Only time will tell if how we feel about his character will change, but for now, there is no denying the happiness he has brought Chelsea fans during his time here and we are grateful for that.”
This split between appreciation and criticism was demonstrated in Chelsea’s league matches at Burnley on March 5 and at Norwich City on March 10.
The chants drew criticism from Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel after the match.
“If we show solidarity, we are solidarity and we must do it together. We take a knee together, if an important person from other clubs or our club unfortunately dies, we show a minute of respect,” Tuchel told reporters after the match. That Chelsea won 4-0.
“It’s not the moment to give other messages, it’s a moment to show respect. We’re doing it because that’s what we are also as a club, showing respect as a club. We need our fans to commit to this moment of applause at the moment.
“We’re doing it for Ukraine, there’s no second opinion about the situation there. They have our ideas and our support, and we have to stand together as a club.”
Behind this mix of feelings among fans is an equally strong sense of anxiety. Rumors about potential buyers continue to circulate, but it remains to be seen when the club’s future will be clarified.
Who will be the new owner? Will they be able or willing to invest the same money that Abramovich is? Will they try to keep Chelsea away from Stamford Bridge?
After nearly two decades of looking forward to nothing but success, these and other questions are on Wikeez’s mind.
“In the end, Roman made it clear that owning Chelsea was never for financial gain, would the new owner go down in this way?
“This is worrying, because above all, it may be the supporters who will pay the price in the end.”