Abramovich sanctions affect Chelsea
LONDON (AP) — Chelsea fans received an unwelcome present on the Premier English League team’s 117th birthday Thursday: British government sanctions against Russian owner Roman Abramovich that only served to intensify the team’s growing pariah status in the soccer world.
The aluminum magnate is among seven wealthy Russians who had their assets frozen under British sanctions on Thursday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the unprecedented government action, Chelsea will operate through the end of the season May 31 with a special “Russia Regulations” license that among other restrictions prohibits the team from selling new tickets or merchandise, or signing new players.
The club’s future was already in doubt: Abramovich, whose $2 billion investment in the club over 19 years transformed the team into a force in European football, had put the squad up for sale last week amid growing calls that sanctions be imposed on a man the government has labeled a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” linked to “destabilizing … undermining and threatening” Ukraine.
The British government also has alleged that Abramovich has obtained financial benefits from Putin’s administration, including contracts in the buildup to Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup.
“We are now turning the screw on influential oligarchs enabling his regime,” Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said of Putin. “The important measures announced today will clearly have a direct impact on Chelsea FC and its fans but we are working hard to make sure the club and the national game are not unnecessarily harmed.”
Club sponsors are responding in their own way: The telecommunications firm Three announced Thursday that it would suspend its sponsorship of the team and remove its logo from Chelsea’s jerseys. The men’s team is at Norwich on Thursday night when the women play at West Ham.
“We recognize that this decision will impact the many Chelsea fans who follow their team passionately,” Three said. “However, we feel that given the circumstances, and the government sanction that is in place, it is the right thing to do.”
Soccer fans immediately felt the effects of the British government’s sanctions: Anyone with tickets until the end of the season will be able to attend matches, but those without will stay without while away fans will be unable to purchase tickets for upcoming games held at Stamford Bridge stadium.
Sanctions on Abramovich see restrictions placed on Chelsea The Associated Press – en Español
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