Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea smiles following his team’s victory during the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao on May 29, 2021 in Porto, Portugal.
Alexander Hassenstein | Uefa | Getty Images
The Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich said Wednesday that he will sell the Chelsea soccer club in England, a dramatic move that comes in response to outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich at the same time announced he has instructed the renowned team to set up a foundation that will use all net proceeds of the sale of Chelsea to “benefit all victims of the war in Ukraine.”
The sale announcement came less than a week after the billionaire said that he was transfer stewardship of the club to the trustees of a charitable foundation, and after calls that Abramovich face sanctions from the United Kingdom.
“As I have stated before, I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart,” Abramovich said in a statement. “In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the Club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.”
“Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner,” he added.
On Tuesday a Ukrainian advocate confronted United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the lack of sanctions on Abramovich.
“You’re talking about more sanctions, prime minister. But Roman Abramovich is not sanctioned. He is in London. His children are not in the bombardments. His children are there, in London,” said the advocate, Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center.
Also on Tuesday, Johnson’s government introduced legislation in Parliament targeted at what the government called “dirty money from Russia and elsewhere” that has been parked in U.K. assets.
Abramovich bought Chelsea, which is based in London, in 2003. During his tenure, Chelsea has won the season title in England’s top soccer division, the Premier League, and the prestigious FA Cup five times each. Chelsea is currently in third place in the Premier League, behind the leader Manchester City and Liverpool.
Earlier Wednesday, the Biden administration said it was forming a new task force to enforce U.S. and allied sanctions imposed on Russian officials and oligarchs who have helped the war in Ukraine, which was launched by President Vladimir Putin.
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