Dark glasses, black bombers and closed face, Ken, who does not want to give his full name, planted himself in front of Stamford Bridge with a sign: “Don’t use Chelsea for your fucking politics. Chelsea forever! » Supporters passing at his level tap him on the shoulder in sign of support. Ken, 71 years old and almost as many years supporting the London football club, sums up the atmosphere outside the enclosure before the match against Newcastle on Sunday March 13. If the Blues fans condemn the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the sanctions imposed by the British government against Roman Abramovich – owner of the club since 2004 – remain in the throat.
“And those opposite, are they being asked to account for their owner? »annoys Gerry Inemaet pointing the finger at the opponent of the day, which became the property of the Saudi investment fund (PFI) in October 2021. “Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen, it has killed tens of thousands and no one is saying anythingcontinues Mr. Inemaet. Instead, we go after billionaires who don’t even live in Russia. »
Chelsea supporters unite behind Mr Abramovich. Since acquiring the club nineteen years ago, the oligarch has made it into a footballing giant, winning around twenty trophies, including two Champions Leagues. Through dirty money? Around the stadium, the argument is hardly heard. In the stands, some spectators spread a banner celebrating the “Roman Empire” on russian flag background.
No cash inflow allowed
The sanctions imposed on Mr Abramovich on March 10 by the British government brought the club to its knees. The assets of “the pro-Kremlin oligarch”, in the words of the British authorities, have been frozen, with immediate effect. The Russian is accused of having benefited from preferential contracts from the Vladimir Putin regime around the 2018 World Cup in Russia or of having supplied steel to the Russian army for the construction of tanks.
The sanctions have immobilized the club. Under an exceptional license granted until May 31, the British government authorizes it to pay the salaries of players and employees, but no cash receipts are authorized. On Monday, the club’s management asked the government “to allow [ses] supporters to have access to tickets ». On Sunday, the stadium was full because tickets had been sold out before the sanctions. For the rest, only year-round subscribers will be able to go to the matches.
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