Russian-Israeli businessman Roman Abramovich said Wednesday he would sell Chelsea Football Club 19 years after buying it, promising to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
This comes amid calls for Abramovich, who has yet to publicly condemn Russia's invasion, to be hit with sanctions following the offense on Ukraine. It is one of the most stunning business repercussions of Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Russia's neighbor.
The Jewish billionaire has denied taking any orders from Putin, and said in a statement that a sale was in the best interests of the reigning European and world soccer champions.
"In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club's sponsors and partners," he stated.
"In hindsight, especially with the public profile it would bring me, maybe I would have thought differently about owning a club", Abramovich was quoted. "But, at the time, I just saw this incredible game and that I wanted to be a part of that in one way or another".
He assured that he would not ask for loans he made to the Premier League club to be repaid to him and the sale would not be fast-tracked. The loans are reported to be a total of $2 billion.
Abramovich told his aides to set up a charitable foundation that would receive all proceeds from the sale.
"The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine," he said in a statement.
"This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery."