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http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/football/article4597865.ece

 

It is Roman Abramovich who shames Chelsea

 

 

Matthew Syed

 

Last updated at 12:01AM, October 28 2015

 

It has been said that the antics of José Mourinho this season have brought shame upon Chelsea and their owner, Roman Abramovich. But let’s be frank: Mourinho couldn’t bring shame upon the Russian oligarch if he turned up to Stamford Bridge dressed in drag, proceeded to insult every football referee in history and then sacked 20 of the medical staff before breakfast.

 

I don’t wish to diminish the actions of the Portuguese manager — they have been shameful — but let us not compare them with one of the great, unfolding scandals in English football. The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed. Don’t take my word for it: listen to the man himself.

 

It was in the High Court, during his legal battle with Boris Berezovsky, his fellow oligarch, that Abramovich admitted what many had suspected but had been constrained by libel laws from stating. As Jonathan Sumption, his QC, put it with immaculate phrasing: there was “an agreement to sell media support to the president of Russia in return for privileged access to state-owned assets”. He described the auction process as “easy to rig and was in fact rigged”.

 

That is squalid quid pro quo that has funded Chelsea. Abramovich and his peers provided Boris Yeltsin (then trailing in the polls for the 1996 election) soft cash and free TV advertising in return for a rigged auction that would hand them the natural wealth of the Russian people at a knockdown price. Within months, Abramovich was richer than Croesus, purchasing super-yachts and luxury homes while his countrymen came close to starvation. “The largest single heist in corporate history,” said Paul Gregory, the economist.

 

This is the elephant in the room. When Abramovich is shown in the directors’ box, commentators talk almost affectionately about his eccentricity, charming grin and beautiful young wife. He is portrayed as a lover of Chelsea. One newspaper once described him as “an astute businessman”.

 

Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a manipulative and ruthless chancer whose money was gained through dubious means, and whose calculated purchase of Chelsea had nothing to do with love of football. He did it to shield himself from possible retribution from Vladimir Putin’s gangster state. He knew that it would be politically tricky, even for a man with as promiscuous an attitude to the rule of law as the Russian leader, to come after a man so closely associated with a high-profile British asset.

 

This wasn’t his only insurance policy, however, as Karen Dawisha, the Russia scholar, pointed out in her book, Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? “Abramovich helped fund the purchase for $50 million [£32.7 million] of Putin’s first presidential yacht, the Olympia, fundraising for which preceded Putin’s being elected president,” she wrote. She also quotes Sergey Kolesnikov, the businessman turned whistleblower who said that Abramovich funnelled the first funds towards the construction of Putin’s palace in Gelendzhik.

 

It is a testament to how successfully Abramovich has been rehabilitated that he is talked about without a hint of irony as being undermined by the behaviour of Mourinho. The Chelsea board is reported to be worried about the “reputational effects” of the Portuguese’s actions. This is the grotesque fantasy land into which we have descended, lured into moral blindness by the grin of a man whose past is so often skirted around.

 

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all is that merely discussing the activities of Abramovich is considered “controversial”. Could there be anything more symbolic of how narrow the debate within football has become?

 

We talk about tactics and the high jinks of the transfer market, debate managers blaming referees or getting shirty with each other in the dugout— this is part of the modern game and the soap opera it has become. It is all good, knockabout fare.

 

But how often do we talk about the wider context? How often do we debate the motives of Abramovich, or the strategic aspirations of Abu Dhabi’s ownership of Manchester City, or Qatar’s foray with Paris Saint-Germain? Football has become a pawn in some of the highest stakes games of all, political and strategic: isn’t this part of its meaning, too?

 

Many Chelsea fans bitterly regret the identity of their club’s owner; others tolerate his presence. But there are some who see it as a badge of honour to defend his past. “What about the owners of other clubs?” they say. “Are not all rich people at least a little dubious?” This is cognitive dissonance of a kind that even Leon Festinger, the sociologist, would have found comical. It is whataboutery on turbocharge, and it is pitiful to behold.

 

There is nothing anti-Chelsea about condemning Abramovich. Indeed, many of those who love the club are the most outraged that it should have been tainted by him. Even if it is difficult to figure out how to obtain redress for the Russian people from the swindle they suffered in the 1990s, it is surely obligatory to resist the way that Abramovich has been so seamlessly integrated into British cultural life. Certainly, the fawning coverage has got to stop.

 

Berezovsky died on March 23, 2013, alone in a locked bathroom with a ligature around his neck. Professor Bernd Brinkmann, an expert in asphyxiation, told the coroner that the marks on his neck could not have been brought about by hanging and suggested that he had been strangled and then hanged from the shower rail in the bathroom. The coroner delivered an open verdict.

 

Was the oligarch yet another victim of the so-called aluminium wars? There has never been any suggestion that Abramovich was in any way involved. But it does seem symbolic of the violence that raged in Russia after the Yeltsin era as rival gangs fought for control of the recently privatised industries. What we do know for sure is that billions in state assets were handed over for a fraction of their true value to a select group of men, including Abramovich, who became rich beyond imagination.

 

It is not just the Russian people, who have endured so much over the centuries — at the hands of self-appointed elites of all political colours — who have the right to feel a sense of outrage

How the hell has somebody who benefited greatly from buying state assets cheaply seamlessly become part of British society!

Well knock me down with a feather.

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Talking of Boris

 

Sing a song for Chelsea

 

Whenever Chelsea and Liverpool play, it brings to mind another story, this time from a former Stamford Bridge executive. It recalls the 2005 Champions League semifinal second leg at Anfield, when Luis Garcia scored the only goal of the tie after four minutes. At halftime, the boardroom was agog with talk of whether Garcia's shot into the Kop end goal was over the line. Everyone was discussing what became known as "the ghost goal."

 

Well, almost everyone. Abramovich had other things on his mind. He collared the executive and told him that he'd been stunned by the prematch rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone." Chelsea must have something like that, the Russian said, and told his employee to find a song.

 

The executive explained the history. The Kop had taken up singing this more than 40 years earlier and it was impossible to re-create something that grew so organically. The oligarch waved him away and told him to find a songwriter and come back with an anthem.

 

 

 

http://www.espnfc.com/club/chelsea/363/blog/post/2688212/jose-mourinho-must-allow-eden-hazard-to-attack-at-chelsea

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If you had any doubts Joe Cole was not the sharpest, I bet he took up smoking to try and play like Cruyff.

 

 

There is a story Joe Cole tells. During his time at Chelsea, Cole wanted to play in the centre of midfield. Jose Mourinho, in his first spell as manager at Stamford Bridge, preferred to use him out wide, explaining to the player that he did not have the physical strength to play in the middle of the park.

 

So Cole decided to bulk up. He went to the gym and hit the weights in the afternoon after training. He was pumping iron one day when the manager popped his head into the weight room and did a double take.

 

What, Mourinho asked, was Cole doing? The eager Londoner explained that he was getting his body in the right shape for a central role. The Portuguese considered this for a moment and then told Cole a story. Back home in Setubal, Mourinho said, he had a donkey. It could run all day, he said, but it would never become a racehorse. Then he left, leaving Cole bewildered and demoralised.

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A lot of stuff about a Chelsea 'anthem'

 

Is that when they came up with that shit Sugg's number or does that pre-date the demented clapping seal?

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How the hell has somebody who benefited greatly from buying state assets cheaply seamlessly become part of British society!

Well knock me down with a feather.

He's a scamp

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I had a good old chat with David Moyes when he was flying to Italy a few years back. He asked who I supported and, when I said Arsenal, he told me a great story about having Aaron Ramsey and dad in his front room literally poised to sign from Cardiff City when his dad took a call from Arsène Wenger. His came off the phone and, with the contract on the table, said: “Put the pen down Aaron, good boy.” Then told Moyes he was off to sign for Arsenal! Moyes said it was the closest he ever got to signing a player without it actually happening.



Quality stuff.

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The bigger they are, the better they are.

Ryan Giggs

I once saw Ryan Giggs in HMV in Manchester Market Street. Looking through the Ryan Giggs calendar. I kid you not. 70114usa

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West Ham 2-0 down ...I never used to arsed about West Ham in fact I quite liked thembut while those cunts Gold , Sullivan and Brady are involved and getting that stadium for basically fuck all I hope they lose every week,

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We're going to finish third this season. Man Utd are not that good, and Chelsea are imploding. We'll have too much ground to make up on Man City and Arsenal. I think it is possible that both Man Utd and Chelsea will finish outside of top four, with Spurs nabbing fourth just behind us.

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Only in Turkey

 

Turkey’s president was forced to intervene after the boss of Turkish club Trabzonspor locked four match officials in a stadium overnight after they failed to award his side a penalty.

 

Trabzonspor were denied a last minute spot-kick in their recent 2-2 draw with Gaziantepspor, much to the frustration of the club’s president Ibrahim Haciosmanoglu.

 

The officials responsible for the decision were subsequently locked in the stadium until 4am the following morning, with their release secured by the country’s president Recip Tayyip Erdogan.

 

‘I told stadium security not to let the referees leave until the morning, until I arrived, but a very important person called me and asked me not to cause embarrassment in Turkey and around the world,’ he told Turkey’s Dogan news agency.

 

‘He [Erdogan] promised the [penalty] incident would be investigated.’

 

The referees were escorted to safety by special forces, with the Turkish Football Federation now investigating the incident.

 

‘This unlawfulness cannot be justified by any erroneous referee decision and has caused deep discomfort in the whole football world,’ a statement said.

 

‘All efforts will be made to ensure that the related persons be tried not only under sports law but also criminal

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