Chelsea chairman: Abramovich still committed to our club

5 April 2019

Abramovich
Photo: Getty Images Abramovich has missed Chelsea games since May 2018, but according to chairman, Abramovich is in contact with the club “several times a day."

Despite missing Chelsea games since May 2018, Abramovich is in contact with the club “several times a day," according to chairman.

Chelsea are trying to educate racist and anti-Semitic supporters instead of stadium bans.

Nikolaj Babis Nielsen contact@offthepitch.com

Rumours have been growing about Chelsea-owner Roman Abramovich’s lack of attendance at Stamford Bridge. Some of them are even about him wanting to sell the club. But Abramovich was denied a UK visa in May 2018, has sought Israeli citizenship and moved to Tel Aviv, which explains his absence.

Even though it is thought he has missed all games since his visa was denied, Abramovich is still very much committed to the club, according to chairman Bruce Buck.

“Everything he’s doing reaffirms his commitment to Chelsea,” Buck told Sky Sports News.

Buck also said that the club is in contact with Abramovich several times a day, talking about players, commercial activities and good causes.

Fighting racism and anti-Semitism 

One of the good causes Buck is talking about is a recent donation made by Abramovich to the Imperial War Museum’s new Holocaust Galleries opening in 2021. At the Chelsea Foundation’s event ‘Light From The Dark’, Buck addressed Abramovich’s concerns about the anti-Semitism being linked to some of the club’s supporters.

“He’s checking in with us regularly as to how it’s going and what we’re doing and what effect we’re having, so yes it’s very important to him,” Buck said.

Chelsea supporters were accused of anti-Semitic chanting during a Europa-League Match against Hungarian side Vidi, and Chelsea suspended four fans in December for hurling racist chants at Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

Education instead of bans

Buck told BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Today podcast that Chelsea have changed their approach to deaing with racism and anti-Semitism. Normally any racism or anti-Semitism would result in a stadium ban, but Buck and Chelsea are trying a different approach.

“We believe with certain activity the best way to deal with it is education … If we ban them from the stadium for three years, they are not going to change their behaviour. They will become more racist or more anti-Semitic,” Buck said.

Instead Chelsea are to have an educational approach. The club write to the alleged offenders and ask them to comment on what they have done. If the individual writes back, the club decide whether it would be better to respond with education instead of a ban. Recently the club have taken groups of 150 fans and around 30 club staff and young players to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to give some perspective on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.