Chelsea supporters were devastated to find out that much-loved club owner Roman Abramovich has been forced to put the club up for sale following sanctions imposed by the UK government against Russia. However, manager Thomas Tuchel slammed fans who were loudly chanting the oligarch’s name from the stands during a minute’s applause in support of Ukraine during the club’s match against Burnley on Saturday.
The Blues recorded a comfortable 4-0 victory against the hosts, but there were a number of uncomfortable moments as Chelsea fans kept chanting for Abramovich. These were met with jeers and boos from the rest of the crowd who found it offensive to go against the initiative to stand with Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
“It’s not the moment to do this,” Tuchel said in his post-match press conference. “If we show solidarity we show solidarity and we should do it together. We take the knee together. If an important person from our club or another club unfortunately dies we have a minute of respect,” he added.
The manager acknowledges the fact that Chelsea supporters want to show appreciation towards Abramovich, who was the club’s owner for the past 19 years. However, he feels there is a different time and place to express those thoughts. “It is not the moment to give other messages. It’s the moment to show respect. We want to do this. As a club we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause.”
He then called on the fans to focus on paying tribute to the people of Ukraine who are fighting for their country. Tuchel believes that there is no room for a difference of opinion on the matter. “We do it for Ukraine and there is no second opinion about this situation. They have our thoughts and our support and we should stand together,” he said, as quoted by the BBC.
The English FA has put together a number of small initiatives to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Premier League stadiums were peppered with the Ukrainian flag over the weekend, along with banners, cards, and TV screens showing messages of support.
Meanwhile, Chelsea is still awaiting their fate as Abramovich searches for a buyer. He has reportedly put the club on the market for £3 billion. He was forced to make the move after the UK government froze his assets and banned him from entering the country as part of sanctions against Russian oligarchs who are believed to have strong ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin