You’ve no doubt seen imagery, online or on television, of Russia attacking Ukraine at this point. Videos of missiles flying, air raid sirens blaring, and physical destruction are pervasive. Global leaders are calling out and sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his invading the neighboring country of Ukraine.
With that, there have also been some public outcries against those closest to Putin, including Chelsea owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. One of the richest Russians alive, the billionaire has long been documented as having a favorite son kind of relationship with Putin.
His extensive ties to the Russian regime have made him a target in the United Kingdom, a place where he has been persona non grata with the government since 2018. According to various reports, British officials are going to make it impossible for Abramovich, 55, to ever live in the UK or base his business operations there, ever again.
One Member of Parliament, Chris Bryant of the Labor Party, publicly called for Abramovich to be stripped of Chelsea Football Club.
“I have got hold of a leaked document from 2019 from the Home Office which says in relation to Mr Abramovich – ‘As part of HMG’s Russia strategy aimed at targeting illicit finance and malign activity, Abramovich remains of interest to HMG due to his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices,’ Bryant said during a House of Commons session focused on the events in Ukraine.
“‘An example of this is Abramovich admitting in court proceedings that he paid for political influence.
“Therefore HMG is focused on ensuring individuals linked to illicit finance and malign activity are unable to base themselves in the UK and will use the relevant tools at its disposal, including immigration powers to prevent this’.
“That is nearly three years ago and yet remarkably little has been done in relation.
“Surely Mr Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?
“Surely we should be looking at seizing some of his assets including his £152 million home?
“And making sure that other people who have had Tier 1 Visas like this are not engaged in malign activity?”
To this, House of Commons Leader Mark Spencer replied: “He will know under the sanctions passed in the House this week there is the opportunity for the Government to take very strong action against high-profile Russian individuals who are of concern.
“He will be aware that the Home Secretary will be at this despatch box next Monday for Home Office questions and I am sure he will be able to challenge her directly.”
Since Abramovich took over the club in 2003, Chelsea have become global giants, wining trophies by the multitude. By claiming the FIFA Club World Cup, towards the beginning of this month, they have now won every major trophy possible under Abramovich.
Prior to the oligarch’s takeover, Chelsea had long been a mediocre also-ran. The Blues will go for another trophy on Sunday, when they take on Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in the EFL Cup Final.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”