Tuesday, May 28News That Matters

Thomas Tuchel reacts to Chelsea criticism after Russian invasion of Ukraine

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says he ‘understands’ criticism directed at the Premier League side in response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Labour MP Chris Bryant has urged the UK government to seize Roman Abramovich’s assets.

Earlier in the week, the government announced it would impose sanctions on three billionaires with close links to Russia President Vladimir Putin as part of their response to Russia’s invasion.

Mr Abramovich is one of Russia’s richest and is believed to be very close to President Putin. The Russian military began their invasion in eastern Europe on Thursday and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that the Russians will storm Kyiv in the coming hours.

Chelsea manager Tuchel, who is preparing for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley, said: ‘We shouldn’t pretend this is not an issue. The situation for everyone here is horrible.

‘Nobody expected this, it’s pretty unreal. It’s clouding our minds, and our excitement towards the final. ‘It brings huge uncertainty, much more to all people in the moment more involved than us. We send our best wishes and regards to them, obviously.

‘Still there are so many uncertainties around the situation of our club, in the UK with scenarios like this, that it makes no sense if I comment on it.

‘We’re aware of it, we haven’t got so much insight or inside information than you might think, and in the very end, I think it’s also the right from the team and staff to be not political, to focus on sports. Not because we are hiding, but the situation is clear, it’s horrible, no doubt about it.

‘I’d love to take my right not to comment on it until there is a decision made. It’s distracting us, it’s worrying us, to a certain degree I can understand it, I can understand the critical opinions towards the club and us who represent it. We cannot fully free ourselves from it.

‘But maybe people can understand me as the coach, and players as players, we don’t have the insight what is going on and how much the owner is involved in all this – we don’t feel responsible for what’s going on, it’s horrible and there can’t be a doubt about it, war in Europe is unthinkable for me for a long period of time.

‘Let’s wait, the impact is clear, and the discussions have an impact, but let’s be a bit more patient and understand what the measurements will be and then maybe we’ll deal with it.’

On Friday, UEFA announced this year’s Champions League final would be moved from the Russian city of St Petersburg to Paris.

Asked if he agrees with UEFA’s decision, Tuchel said: ‘Yes, and sadly it’s the worst reason to change a location. Absolutely the worst. ‘The last two times it was because of corona and that was not good, and now we have even worse news.’

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