Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has vowed to do all he can to stamp out the “evil” of racism in football after admitting his shock at the abuse some of the club’s players receive.
The Russian-Jewish tycoon spoke out amid mounting concern over the online attacks on footballers, which included Blues full-back Reece James being targeted on Instagram earlier this year.
Abramovich has funded the club’s “No To Hate” campaign in response to the abuse James and other players have received, and has reiterated his intention to stamp out discrimination.
He told Forbes magazine: “Racism, anti-Semitism, this is all the same type of evil and should have no place on our world at this day and age.
“Every time I get sent examples of racist abuse that our players face, I am shocked. It’s disgraceful that this is the reality for not just our players, but for anyone targeted by this sort of abuse.
“If we as a club can make a difference in this area, in fighting anti-Semitism, racism and promoting tolerance, I am determined to stand behind it and contribute in whatever way I can.”
In the rare interview, Abramovich spoke of his belief that women’s football can be just as lucrative as the men’s game if it is given the same financial backing.
Reigning champions Chelsea currently top the Women’s Super League and under manager Emma Hayes have won the League Cup and reached the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will face German side Wolfsburg this month.
Abramovich said: “I see no reason why clubs wouldn’t want to support women’s football and provide the best possible opportunity for them to succeed.
“For me, this is both about the principle, but also, women’s football has huge potential. If women’s football received the same level as support as men’s football, the sport would obviously be equally successful on the business side.
“And I think investment pays off. I think their success demonstrates what can be achieved when you dedicate resources and the right leadership. Emma Hayes has been remarkable in her work with the team.”