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Thomas Tuchel: Chelsea’s view on Ukraine ‘absolutely’ includes Roman Abramovich

The Blues issued a 24-word statement saying the “situation” was “horrific and devastating”, but did not mention Russia or Vladimir Putin.

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Roman Abramovich’s views on Ukraine were reflected in a Chelsea statement, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel (Jed Leicester/PA)

Roman Abramovich’s views on Ukraine were reflected in a Chelsea statement, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel (Jed Leicester/PA)

Roman Abramovich’s views on Ukraine were reflected in a Chelsea statement, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel (Jed Leicester/PA)

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has said the Blues’ statement “praying for peace” in Ukraine “absolutely” reflects the view of the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

The London club, on the morning of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool, issued a 24-word statement on their website but did not mention Russia or Vladimir Putin.

It read: “The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating. Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”

Speaking to Sky Sports prior to the Wembley showpiece, Tuchel was asked if the statement reflected Abramovich’s view and said: “Absolutely it includes him and this reflects my opinion like everyone else’s opinion in the club.”

On Saturday, Abramovich announced he was handing the “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the club’s foundation trustees, but would remain as owner. His statement did not mention the crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire has taken the decision to protect Chelsea from continued links to the wider situation of Russia’s war with Ukraine, the PA news agency understands.

Chelsea’s senior leadership set-up will not change, it is understood, with chairman Bruce Buck now the club’s most senior figure.

Asked if he had spoken to Abramovich, Tuchel said: “No, we haven’t, and this is not unusual. I have daily conversations with (technical and performance advisor) Petr Cech and very regularly with Marina (Granovskaia, director) – they’re in charge of football and it’s my understanding they will stay in charge, so it will not change a lot for me.”

The rare statement from Abramovich raised as many questions as it answered, and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville called the statement “cowardly” and “a hospital pass”.

“I think when the news came through… (on Saturday night) myself and most others thought it was a noble gesture and the right thing to do, but if you look at who is on the charity trust, people like (Chelsea Women manager) Emma Hayes, Piara Powar who set up Kick It Out, (sports lawyer) John Devine, it’s quite clear they’re not going to be running Chelsea,” he said.

“If anything, I thought it was a cowardly approach to throw a hospital pass to good people on the charity board when it’s quite clear he runs Chelsea along with Petr Cech and Marina on the football side, as Thomas Tuchel just made clear there.

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“There’s no way the charity foundation is running the club and I’m not quite sure why Roman Abramovich made that statement.

“If he wants to make a statement of more value it would be whether he supports the war in Ukraine or doesn’t support the war in Ukraine.”

Jamie Carragher added that Chelsea had “embarrassed themselves” in their handling of the situation.

“The thing of Roman Abramovich passing it on to the Chelsea trustees, that’s not him relinquishing the club,” he said. “Stewardship and ownership are completely different – he’s still running it.

“That’s fine, but for the statement to not mention what’s going on in Ukraine I thought was really poor.”

Abramovich’s step will not have any bearing on any possible UK Government sanctions, but was a decision understood to have been taken solely in Chelsea’s interests.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who claimed in the House of Commons on Thursday that the UK government should seize Abramovich’s assets, wants stronger action from the Russian.

“I’m worried that the British press (with some notable exceptions) have fallen for the Abramovich line on ceding control,” he tweeted.

“Unless and until he condemns the criminal invasion of Ukraine I will continue to call for the UK to sanction him and seize/freeze assets.”

A large number of sporting clubs and organisations have made statements and gestures condemning Russia’s actions.

Czech Republic followed Sweden and Poland in announcing they would not play Russia in the current situation – a move which effectively leaves world governing body FIFA to decide whether to grant Russia clear passage to the World Cup or bar the nation entirely.

If the Czechs beat Sweden in Solna in March in their World Cup qualifying play-off, they were scheduled to meet the winner of Poland and Russia later that month.

The Czech Republic national team said on Twitter: “The Czech FA executive committee, staff members and players of the national team agreed it’s not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on the neutral venue.

“We all want the war to end as soon as possible.”

Later on Sunday, the Football Association announced England would not play against Russia in any fixture at any level for the “foreseeable future” as it condemned “the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership” in Ukraine.

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A message supporting West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and the people of Ukraine, displayed on screens at the London Stadium (Nigel French/PA)

A message supporting West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and the people of Ukraine, displayed on screens at the London Stadium (Nigel French/PA)

A message supporting West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and the people of Ukraine, displayed on screens at the London Stadium (Nigel French/PA)

Screens at the London Stadium were lit up in the yellow and blue of Ukraine ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Wolves and showed a message which read: “Sending love and prayers to Andriy Yarmolenko and the people of Ukraine.”

The Hammers warmed up in number seven Yarmolenko shirts, with the Ukraine winger having been given time off by the club.

The International Judo Federation has suspended Russian president Putin from his role as honorary president and ambassador.

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