Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who owns the British Premiere League football club Chelsea FC, has been hit with financial sanctions by the British government, along with six other Russian oligarchs. But the team Chelsea will, for now, be allowed to continue play. And Abramovich has also been hit personally as Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial and Museum Yad Vashem cut ties with the billionaire, who has been one of its patrons.
Roman Abramovich has an estimated net worth of more than $12 billion. There has been concern over the years that Russian oligarchs such as himself have been making big investments in western businesses and properties as part of a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to expand his country’s impact over western economies. Putin hoped that in this way he would be able to influence their foreign policies regarding Russia, but this plan has failed in light of all of the sanctions brought against Russia after it invaded Ukraine without provocation.
A total of seven Russian oligarchs – super wealthy Russian businessmen – were sanctioned on Thursday by the British government. The one thing that they all have in common is their close ties to Putin, which is the only way that the men were able to keep their business empires. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, another Jewish-Russian oligarch, learned the hard way what it meant to stand up to Putin and spent ten years in a Russian prison. Roman Abramovich was spared this fate because he reportedly does what Vladimir Putin wants him to do in his business dealings, and this allegedly included his purchase of Chelsea.
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“This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the government of Russia,” said the statement issued by the UK. But it is allowing his Chelsea Football Club to continue play. “This includes permissions for the club to continue playing matches and other football-related activity which will in turn protect the Premier League, the wider football pyramid, loyal fans and other clubs,” added the statement since, of course, in England the show must go on, at least as far as soccer is concerned.”
British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries commented on the Roman Abramovich decision on Twitter saying, “I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended.”
Chelsea FC released a statement on the matter saying, “By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. However, the UK Government has issued a general license that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities.”
The team added that its upcoming games will still be played and that it intends to engage in discussions with the UK Government seeking permission for the Club to operate as normal as possible. “We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities,” said the club.
As for Yad Vahsem, the Holocaust Museum and memorial released a statement that simply read, “In light of recent developments, Yad Vashem has decided to suspend the strategic partnership with Mr. Roman Abramovich.”