A group of 24 United Kingdom (UK) Members of Parliament (MPs) have called for sanctions against Chelsea FC and Everton who have links to Russian oligarchs.
This comes after Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, who was recently sentenced to more than 3 years in prison had called for action to be taken against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, who has ties with Everton.
He says the duo is a beneficiary of an oppressive Russian government.
Written by the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran, a letter to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asks him to ensure neither club fronts or participates in any government trade missions.
Ms Moran tells Mr Raab to “rapidly consider and implement further sanctions”. Reads the letter:
Strong words are one thing, but action is what’s needed now.
Football and our football clubs are part of Britain’s brand. They help us promote our interests and our values overseas.
That work is undermined if we allow clubs with close links to the Russian state to be involved in those efforts. Britain’s soft power is weaker because of it.
We urge you to work with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that any club with such connections is not fronting, or part of, such programmes, including; The GREAT Campaign, Premier Skills, government trade visits conducted in partnership with the Premier League.
Clubs that should be considered for such action include Chelsea FC and Everton FC.
The UK must show leadership and stand up for its values. In addition to further sanctions, making it clear that our cultural and sporting institutions are to be protected will send a clear signal to our allies and Russia.
Last week, during an emergency debate in the House of Commons, the government was challenged by opposition MPs to impose sanctions on the two oligarchs to “protect human rights and civil society in Russia.”
Both men have always insisted their businesses are legitimate.