Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has opened up on his enduring passion for the club, blasting discrimination while lavishing praise on the Blues’ women’s team and admitting that he has never wanted to have a “public profile”.
Discussing his acquisition of the English Premier League giants for around $194 million in 2002, Abramovich has spoken of his thrill at the move that transformed English football and pointed to the surprise factor of the game as the key reason for his enduring enthusiasm.
Abramovich oversaw the creation of the club’s women’s team in the second year of his tenure, with the Russian billionaire providing a base at the overhauled Cobham training base, a separate stadium and travel to international matches for the female side.
“I think investment pays off,” Abramovich told Forbes, praising Emma Hayes, the long-serving coach of the Women’s Super League champions, as “remarkable”.
“I think their success demonstrates what can be achieved when you dedicate resources and the right leadership.
“I see no reason why clubs wouldn’t want to support women’s football and provide the best possible opportunity for them to succeed.
“For me, this is both about the principle, but, also, women’s football has huge potential. If women’s football received the same level as support as men’s football, the sport would obviously be equally successful on the business side.”
Abramovich described the women’s side as “critical” to Chelsea, and reaffirmed his determined to continue to oversee the club’s work in the community and against intolerance.
“Racism, antisemitism, this is all the same type of evil and should have no place on our world at this day and age,” the 54-year-old said.
“Every time I get sent examples of racist abuse that our players face, I am shocked. It’s disgraceful that this is the reality for not just our players, but for anyone targeted by this sort of abuse.
“If we, as a club, can make a difference in this area, in fighting antisemitism, racism and promoting tolerance, I am determined to stand behind it and contribute in whatever way I can.”
“These are very, very big themes and they are very, very important. Things at that level require me to personally show that I am behind it and that I am accountable.”
Known for shunning the spotlight, Abramovich is enchanted by the absence of a “set formula for winning football matches.”
“It has never been my ambition to have a public profile,” he said. “It is not helpful to provide additional running commentary.
“A coach and his or her squad have to consider many factors when approaching each match.
“It’s like every few days is a new exam and the work you have put in gets evaluated. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the unpredictability and seeing how each game plays out.”