ukraine invasion

Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich to Sell Chelsea Football Club

Photo: Michael Regan/FIFA via Getty Images

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich announced on Wednesday that he will be selling Chelsea Football Club, the English soccer team he has owned since 2003. The move comes only days after Abramovich attempted to put some distance between himself and Chelsea amid mounting calls for wealthy Russians with connections to Russian president Vladimir Putin to face financial repercussions for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, Abramovich said the decision to sell was in the best interest of the Premier League club and its fans and that he won’t ask for the repayment of outstanding loans. “This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and Club,” he said.

Abramovich said that all proceeds from the sale will be donated to a newly formed foundation for “the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

“This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery,” Abramovich said.

Last week, the U.S. and other G7 nations instituted a series of financial sanctions against Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. The economic actions were levied against the nation’s banks but also against individual members of Russia’s elite who have ties to Putin.

Abramovich himself has yet to be officially targeted by any of these sanctions, but his name has been floated by some, including Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party. Starmer asked British prime minister Boris Johnson why Abramovich hasn’t been sanctioned despite the U.K. government considering him a person of interest due to his “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices.”

Johnson declined to comment on Abramovich specifically but said the actions that the country has taken are already being felt.

“The vise is tightening on the Putin regime, and it will continue to tighten,” Johnson said.

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Russian Billionaire Abramovich to Sell Chelsea Football Club