One of the greatest living Jewish philanthropists – the Portuguese, Israeli and Russian Jew, Roman Abramovich - who owns Chelsea FC, looked on as his club became world football champion after defeating Brazil’s Palmeiras 2-1, at the end of the FIFA Club World Cup played in the United Arab Emirates. The team defeated today is coached by Abel Ferreira, a Portuguese coach of great value.
This feat is more significant than football fans might think. It is specially dedicated to the Jews Irina Vasilievna Mikhailenko and Arkady Abramovich Leibovich, the kind parents of young Roman, who both died when he was a child. The symbolism of today’s victory is the reason why one day Roman Abramovich bought a football club which would put him permanently in the limelight, and expose him to intrusive news, gossip, envy and antisemitism.
On 8th June 2021, the Anti-Defamation League report entitled "Antisemitism in European soccer on the rise" says that “The experience of Jewish Chelsea FC owner, Roman Abramovich highlights the phenomenon. He has been repeatedly targeted on Twitter with crude antisemitic abuse, with tweets reading: “Roman Abramovich is Jew, stop supporting Chelsea”, “Jews really run the world. I was surprised to learn that Roman Abramovich is one” and “@premierleague Keep matchfixing for the Jew Abramovich”.
Conspiracy theories against Jews and particularly against Roman Abramovich are not only widespread in England, but in many other countries. Even in Portugal, Abramovich was used to denigrate the law that allows the return of descendants of Sephardis.
Today’s Chelsea victory is the victory of a club that is not only about football. It is a moral movement on behalf of humanity. The Chelsea Foundation uses the power of football and sport to motivate, educate and inspire, providing sports coaching and recreation; educational services, including social inclusion and anti-discrimination projects; support for other charitable initiatives, including the environment and welfare of children.
The past two decades have been the most successful in Chelsea's history: today they are World champions, after having won five Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, four League Cups, two UEFA Champions League titles and two UEFA Europa League titles during the period. Chelsea is the first English club to achieve the UEFA treble and, under Mourinho, the best Portuguese coach, Chelsea became the fifth English team to win back-to-back league championships since the Second World War.
Like other Jewish families of Portuguese benefactors (such as Kadoorie, Safra and Rapaport families), over the past thirty years Abramovich has created and managed great projects, resulting in wealth and benefits for others. Such an equilibrium enriches the world as a whole.