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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel took aim at the British government over the weekend after fans were called out for chanting Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s name during Sunday’s victory over Newcastle.
Videos from Chelsea’s recent matches continue to surface on social media showing fans chanting Abramovich’s name since he announced the sale of the team earlier this month after being sanctioned by the British government following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
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A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called out fans, asking them to show their support “without resorting” to such “inappropriate” behavior.
“We recognize the strength of feeling around people’s clubs, but that does not excuse behavior which is completely inappropriate at this time,” the spokesperson said, via The Athletic. “I think people can show passion and support for their club without resorting to that sort of stuff.”
Tuchel has already condemned the chanting but following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle, when fans yet again chanted Abramovich’s name, he took a subtle dig at the government’s “priorities.”
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“I don’t know if in these times this is the most important subject to be discussed in Parliament,” he said when asked by a reporter. “If fans’ chants need to be discussed in Parliament, maybe we need to worry about the priorities of discussions there, but OK. No need to comment from me. We have far more urgent things to discuss and handle.”
Tuchel added that for now, the club needs to concern itself with how it can maintain itself at a “professional level of sport” with the sanctions in place.
Chelsea fans first began chanting Abramobvich’s name last week during a moment of solidarity in support of Ukraine before their match against Burnley. Tuchel slammed the act by fans after the 4-0 win, saying it was a moment “to show respect” and not for “other messages.”
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“It’s not the moment to do this. If we show solidarity we show solidarity and we should do it together,” he said at the time. “It is not the moment to give other messages. It’s the moment to show respect. We want to do this. As a club we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause.”
In an unprecedented ruling against a club owner, the Premier League ordered Abramovich on Saturday to stop running Chelsea and sell – a sale that the government will now oversee.