Chelsea called for “sporting integrity” despite the oligarch’s owner being sanctioned after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich being sanctioned by the UK government for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine, the club called for an FA Cup match against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors “on matters of sporting integrity”. ”

Abramovich’s sanctions mean Chelsea can no longer sell away tickets for Saturday’s game due to restrictions on the club.

“Chelsea FC is aware that this outcome will have a huge impact on Middlesbrough and its supporters, as well as our own supporters who have already bought a limited number of tickets sold before the license was introduced, but we believe this is the fairest. course of action under the current circumstances,” the club said statement Tuesday.

The UK government has added Abramovich, who is selling Chelsea and has been suspended as a director of the club, to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its efforts to “isolate” Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite sanctions against the Russian oligarch and the club, Chelsea have received a special license to continue matches, but some activities are not permitted, such as selling tickets for matches beyond those already sold to fans.

Existing season ticket holders are allowed to attend home matches, as well as fans who purchased tickets before the decision of the UK government on 10 March.

Calling Chelsea’s request “extremely ironic”, Middlesbrough said the club would strongly resist calls to play the match in an empty stadium. Middlesbrough play in the second tier of English football but have already knocked out Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup this season.

“All concerned are well aware of the reasons why Chelsea were sanctioned and that it has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club (MFC),” a spokesman for the club said. statement on Tuesday.

“To suggest that the MFC and our fans should be punished is not only grossly unfair, but unfounded.”

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Chelsea’s request to play the match without spectators went unanswered on social media.

“Congratulations to all who run the show at Chelsea – this is a new world record for lack of self-awareness,” said renowned football writer Oliver Holt. Twitter.
Associated Press global sports correspondent Rob Harris suggested that “the logical thing to do would be to allow Chelsea to sell tickets, but on all proceeds. [to] go straight to an unaffiliated charity,” he tweeted.

Later on Tuesday, the English Football Association reported that Chelsea had agreed to withdraw their request to play the game behind closed doors.

“The FA continues to negotiate with Chelsea, the Premier League and the government to find a solution that would allow Chelsea fans to attend games and away fans to attend Stamford Bridge, while still enforcing the sanctions,” he said. FA representative.

The Premier League club is owned by Chelsea FC PLC, whose ultimate parent company is Fordstam Limited. According to the Chelsea website, Fordstam’s ultimate controlling party is Abramovich.

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