Chelsea fans sent reminder over Roman Abramovich chants by Government Minister


Supporters appeared to sing the name of the Chelsea owner – who has been added to the UK government’s list of sanctioned individuals – before the team’s game against Norwich City

Technology minister Chris Philp has encouraged Chelsea fans to remember why owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned, after a section of the away support appeared to chant the Russian’s name ahead of the clash at Carrow Road on Thursday.

Chelsea are operating under a special licence after Abramovich was added to the UK government’s sanctioned persons list, allowing the first team to fulfil their fixture away to Norwich City, but the future of the club remains uncertain.

Abramovich’s inclusion on the list comes amid the government accusing him of being “associated with” Russian president Vladimir Putin, though he has previously denied links to the politician.

And Philp, the MP for Croydon South and former Minister for London, has served a reminder to Chelsea fans tempted to make outward displays of support towards the club’s owner.

“So, I understand why fans are very attached to their football clubs. But Roman Abramovich is someone who has been sanctioned now, yesterday morning, for his very close links to Vladimir Putin and the Putin regime.

“I just say respectfully to the Chelsea fans, I know he’s done a lot for the club, but the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and what the Russian regime are doing to civilians – shelling maternity hospitals and shooting civilians who are fleeing down humanitarian corridors – and that is more important than football.

A section of the Blues support had been heard chanting Abramovich’s name over the weekend, interrupting a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine as Chelsea faced Burnley at Turf Moor, and manager Thomas Tuchel criticised the timing of the move.

“Listen, if we show solidarity we show solidarity and we should do it together,” the former Paris Saint-Germain manager said.

“We take the knee together and if an important person from our club or another club unfortunately dies, we show a minute of respect.

“It’s not the moment to give other messages. It’s the moment to show respect.

“We do this because this is what we are also as a club. We show respect as a club and we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause.

“At this moment, we do it for Ukraine and there is no second opinion about the situation there. They have our thoughts and our support.

“We should stand together as a club. It’s not the moment for other messages.”

Abramovich had issued a statement confirming his plans to sell the club, describing the move as being “in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners”.

However, the latest developments leave some question marks, even as a number of potential buyers are believed to have not been deterred by the sanctions.

“As the license conditions are written today, the sale would not be allowed,” Philp told Sky News.

“However, if a buyer emerged it would be open to that buyer or to that football club to approach the government and ask for the conditions to be varied in a way that allows that sale to take place.”