How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine is Affecting Soccer

Logan Kinajil-Moran, Senior Writer

The U.K.’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions placed on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has resulted in restrictions and controversy surrounding Chelsea F.C., the top English Premier League club that the oligarch owns.

Abramovich, 55, gained an immense fortune in the oil business and has been the owner of the London-based soccer club since 2003, when he reportedly purchased it for a whopping U.S. $197 million. He has since invested heavily into the club, making them one of the most successful teams in England during his reign. Since Abramovich bought the club, it has won 18 trophies – more than any other English club during that time period.

However, Abramovich’s close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and accusations by Western governments of profiting from these close relationships have led to him, as well as several other Russian oligarchs, being subject to sanctions by the U.K. and the EU. Abramovich, as well as seven other Russian oligarchs, have been subjected to travel restrictions and frozen assets in their jurisdiction. 

This all comes at the same time as Abramovich was looking to sell Chelsea F.C., his most prized asset, as he announced on March 2, not long after Russia first invaded Ukraine. Several offers had been made before the sanctions were implemented, but were rejected, not matching up to Abramovich’s approximately $4 billion (U.S.D.) price tag. The sanctions have brought many uncertainties to the sale and the way the club is run.

The sanctions mean that the club cannot sell any match tickets or merchandise, the only supporters allowed to games will be season ticket holders and the club will not be able to buy nor sell players. The club has also been restricted to a budget of just £20,000 for away games, which includes travel, accommodation, and the like. They are also limited to £500,000 for staging home games, which include things like security and catering. In fact, it is only by special government license that the club is able to play at all. 

The sale of the club is in doubt, with the government of the U.K. likely to take control of the profits from the sale and how it is distributed, if allowed to happen at all. With the future of one of the largest soccer clubs in the world being uncertain, the effects of the Russian invasions are felt all over the world and in so many different ways as governments around the world look to counter the effects of large-scale conflict.

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