Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich announced Saturday he will give “the stewardship and care of” Chelsea FC to the trustees of the soccer team’s charitable foundation after nearly 20 years of ownership, according to a statement posted by the club, after the United Kingdom unveiled sanctions against Russia and its wealthy oligarchs over the invasion of Ukraine.
Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC, smiles following his team’s victory during the UEFA Champions … [+] League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao on May 29, 2021 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
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Abramovich said in a statement he believes the trustees of the foundation “are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans.”
The billionaire purchased Chelsea FC for about $190 million in 2003, which is now valued at $3.2 billion, according to Forbes estimates.
The announcement comes after Chris Bryant, a member of Parliament, said Abramovich shouldn’t be allowed to own a soccer club in the U.K. amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and after other members of Parliament called for Abramovich to be sanctioned.
Abramovich did not provide a reason for giving stewardship of the team to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
Abramovich hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day management of the club, but he did have final say on key personnel decisions, according to ESPN.
He isn’t planning to sell the club, sources told ESPN.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday outlined sanctions targeting Russian banks, members of Putin’s inner circle and other wealthy Russians who park their wealth in the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine. Other countries have levied sanctions against Russian officials and members of the Russian elite, along with their families. Ukraine’s major cities have been under fire from Russian troops, leading to hundreds of deaths, and over 100,000 refugees have fled the country.
$13.6 billion. That’s Abramovich’s net worth, according to Forbes’ real-time estimates. Forbes reported earlier this week Abramovich has the ability to go after a $2 billion loan he gave to Chelsea FC, if he were to be sanctioned by the U.K. government.
The Union of European Football Associations moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris due to the “unparalleled crisis,” as other cultural organizations move to bar Russia from participating, like Eurovision and Formula 1.
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