Technology minister Chris Philp has called for Chelsea fans to stop pro-Roman Abramovich chants after the sanctions imposed on the Russian oligarch.
Abramovich’s assets were frozen by the UK Government on Thursday morning for his links with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Chelsea have been allowed to operate via a special license, but there are many strict restrictions in place such as their inability to sell tickets and merchandise.
Abramovich, who has invested heavily in the west London club since his takeover in 2003, was the subject of supportive chants from Blues supporters during the team’s 3-1 win over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Thursday night.
But speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, MP for Croydon South, Philp, urged Chelsea fans to consider that there are matters more important than football amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m a football fan myself, I’m a Palace fan, in south London. So I understand why fans are very attached to their football clubs,” Philp said.
“But Roman Abramovich is someone who has been sanctioned now for his very close links to Vladimir Putin and the Putin regime.
“And I just say respectfully to the Chelsea fans, I know he’s done a lot for the club, but the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and what the Russian regime are doing to civilians – shelling maternity hospitals and shooting civilians who are fleeing down humanitarian corridors – and that is more important than football.
“And I say that as a football fan myself, and I would just ask them to keep that in mind.”
Abramovich had put Chelsea up for sale last week, with potential suitors registering their interest.
Despite the sanctions, the Government will allow the sale of the club as long as it doesn’t financially benefit the Russian billionaire.