Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel questions UK government’s priorities after Roman Abramovich chants criticized

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Thomas Tuchel has questioned the British government’s priorities after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman described chelsea fans singing Roman Abramovich’s name at matches as “completely inappropriate.”

Abramovich was disqualified as a director by the Premier League last Saturday following government sanctions which identified the 55-year-old as one of seven Russian oligarchs with business interests in the UK who had close ties to Vladimir Putin.

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After Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Burnley on March 5, Tuchel urged fans who sang support of Abramovich during a minute’s applause organized as a show of solidarity with Ukraine, to “show respect” following the country’s invasion by Russia.

But Tuchel questioned why Johnson’s spokesman had gone further, suggesting on Monday after brief Abramovich chants were heard at last weekend’s win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge that while “we recognize the strength of feeling around people’s clubs but that does not excuse behavior which is completely inappropriate at this time.

“I think people can show passion and support for their club without resorting to that sort of stuff.”

Speaking at a Tuesday news conference ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League round of 16 second leg clash in LilleTuchel said: “I heard about it. I heard about it just some minutes ago. I don’t know if, in these times, it is the most important discussion to have in parliament.

“I don’t know if fan chants being discussed in parliament means that we have to worry about the priorities of this government. But OK, listen, no need to comment from me. We have really far more urgent things to discuss and handle. “

Abramovich has put the club up for sale as a result of the sanctions with the government expected to approve a license for Chelsea to find a new owner.

A preferred bidder is expected to be identified on Friday but until a sale is completed, Chelsea are having to operate under strict financial guidelines which include not spending more than £20,000 on travel to away matches.

Chelsea’s trip to Lille was paid prior to the UK government’s decision to implement sanctions last Thursday and therefore remains unaffected but Tuchel said plans have had to deviate from the norm for Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal trip to Middlesbrough.

“There are restrictions and we have to deal with them,” Tuchel said. “There are adjustments in the amount of staff, who is travelling, how many rooms we have in hotels and how we arrive at matches.

“It isn’t about luxury and bling-bling. This is just a professional level of sports, where we play with two days between matches with our opponent having four days between matches and we arrive with the possibilities of injuries. For that, it is better to arrive with a plane rather than a bus.

“We try to do it. From my understanding, we have a framework to go and play in Lille with absolutely no excuses. Regarding these organizations, it is already more difficult to arrange things on a professional level, in the best way possible, for the FA Cup. But we will deal with it.

“As long as we have shirts and are alive as a team, we will be competitive and fight hard for our success. We owe it to the people who support us in a very invisible way. Of course, we are in the spotlight and it is our responsibility to do so. We will do it.”

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