Chelsea fans can sing whatever they want, but Roman Abramovich pays the price for his connections to Vladimir Putin



Roman Abramovich, the best-known billionaire oligarch who emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union, is now a pariah in Britain. He may also soon find himself sanctioned in America and the EU.

The source of his wealth has never been a secret. Few seemed too bothered. Britain embraced him after his surprise purchase of Chelsea in 2003, when the trophies piled up, seemingly carefree about his business in Russia’s Wild East.

Yet extreme wealth can be linked to ethical compromises – and the fans who even last night sang his name will now pay a price for Abramovich’s relations with Vladimir Putin.

The football fantasy land created in London SW6 has collided with the brutal reality: the daily atrocities committed in Putin’s name, Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, the largest ceasefire since the Cold War, the threat of nuclear radiation leaks and nuclear war. With apologies to Chelsea supporters in this context, the fate of the club worries non-fans a bit.

Abramovich denies allegations that he is linked to Putin or has done anything to deserve sanctions. The British government sees it very differently. Foreign Minister Liz Truss says of Abramovich and six other oligarchs: “With their close ties to Putin, they are complicit in his aggression. The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.”

The game is up, thanks to Putin. Abramovich can turn to China. As for his fans in south-west London, their 19-year affair was always a gamble full of risk. Some just did not want to know.

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