Football

Ukraine situation is ‘horrific and devastating’

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Chelsea released a statement on Sunday, saying the situation around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was « horrific and devastating. »

Chelsea’s statement came after their Russian owner Roman Abramovich gave trustees of the London side’s foundation stewardship of the club, amid calls in Britain that he be sanctioned over Russia’s invasion.

Abramovich, whose wealth stems in part from mining in Russia, did not refer to the situation in Ukraine or to the issue of sanctions in his statement released on Saturday.

« The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating. Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace, » the club said.

Sources have told ESPN that Abramovich is not looking to sell Chelsea at this stage and rejected the assertion that the move to hand over stewardship is designed to evade possible sanctions, with Labor MP Chris Bryant among those openly questioning whether Abramovich should have his assets seized.

Abramovich made a rare move in releasing a statement on Saturday evening to announce his intention to hand over stewardship of the club.

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« During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities, » he said.

« I have always taken decisions with the Club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.

« I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans. »

Chelsea enjoyed the most successful period in their history after Abramovich took over in 2003, winning five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.

Information from Reuters and ESPN’s James Olley was used in this report.

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