Chelsea fans sing Roman Abramovich's name ahead of their Premier League encounter against Burnley; Show of support for outgoing Blues owner comes as all 20 clubs are taking part in gestures of solidary with Ukraine; "It was not the moment to do this," Thomas Tuchel says
Sunday 6 March 2022 11:14, UK
Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea fans picked the wrong time to show their support for Roman Abramovich after the Russian owner's name was chanted during a show of solidarity with Ukraine ahead of their Premier League win at Burnley.
Premier League clubs showed their support for Ukraine on Saturday following Russia's invasion of the country, but Chelsea fans chose the moment of applause before kick-off to pay tribute to Abramovich, who announced his decision to sell the club on Wednesday evening.
Speaking after a 4-0 victory, Tuchel expressed his discomfort at the actions of a section of Chelsea's support and claimed it was not a reflection of his players or a club who pride themselves in showing respect.
"It was not the moment to do this," Tuchel told his post-match press conference. "If we show solidarity, we show solidarity, we should do it together.
"We take the knee together. If an important person from our club or another club unfortunately dies, we show a minute of respect, it is not the moment to give other messages, it's a moment to show respect.
"We do this because this is what we are, we show respect as a club, and we need our fans to commit to this minute of applause.
"We do it for Ukraine, there is no second opinion about the situation there. They have our thoughts and our support; we should stand together as a club. It's not the moment for other messages."
A Chelsea club spokesperson told Sky Sports News: "The club's very firm view is that moments of respect or recognition should always be honoured by everyone present."
Russian-billionaire Abramovich has bankrolled the Blues since his takeover in 2003, with his funding helping Chelsea to win 19 major trophies during his reign - and travelling supporters to Turf Moor on Saturday opted to sing his name ahead of kick-off as both sets of players observed a minute's applause for Ukraine's war victims.
Chelsea face the prospect of Abramovich being placed under sanctions by the UK Government, which is threatening to target Russian businesspeople following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich denies links with the Russian Government or President Vladimir Putin and denies doing anything that would warrant being sanctioned.
Asked whether the Chelsea owner could sell the club if he was sanctioned by the UK Government, Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive said: "I don't think that will work."
Burnley chairman Alan Pace had some words on the Ukraine crisis in his programme notes.
"The events happening in the world today do throw football into context," Pace wrote. "I want to use this column to again send solidarity and support to the people of Ukraine following the devastating scenes that have been unfolding in the country since the Russian invasion.
"I believe at times like this football has the power to unite and send a clear message. We were proud to welcome members of the local Ukrainian community to Turf Moor this week and I want to send my support to all those affected within the local area."
The Clarets wore warm-up shirts with the words 'Football Stands United - No War' after they welcomed Ukrainians from the local area for the defeat against Leicester in midweek.
Sky Sports News has approached Chelsea for comment.
Earlier on Saturday, Leicester City and Leeds United kicked off the Premier League's planned show of support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion of the country.
In Saturday's lunchtime kick-off at the King Power Stadium, which Leicester won 1-0, pro-Ukraine and anti-war messages were on display with further in-stadium activity promoting peace.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, players draping the country's flag around them as they walked out was just one of the gestures shown in last weekend's fixtures - and similar marks of solidarity featured before the match in Leicester.
Both sets of players observed a moment's silence for Ukraine, while a Ukrainian flag was also held by the teams.
Leicester supporters displayed a banner reading 'We Stand with Ukraine' alongside a picture of the Ukrainian flag before their game against Leeds.
All 20 Premier League captains will wear special armbands in Ukrainian colours this weekend, including Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Leeds defender Luke Ayling.
Leicester teamed up with British and Ukrainian Red Cross to raise funds and supplies to send to the besieged capital Kyiv - where essentials are running out for locals sheltering underground.
The English top-flight continued to rally behind Ukraine with fans encouraged to join players, managers, match officials and club staff in a moment of reflection and solidarity before kick-off at each game.
The screens at stadiums will display 'Football Stands Together' against the backdrop of the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.
In the WSL, Brighton wore their blue and yellow third kit against Aston Villa as the two teams displayed a Ukraine flag before kick-off.
It was a similar scene at Craven Cottage ahead of Fulham's Championship clash with Blackburn Rovers. It is a weekend in which the footballing community is coming together as one to show support.
Ahead of kick-off around the country, teams will stand on the centre-circle to think about all of those affected by the shocking events in Ukraine.
Southampton went a step further in showing their support for Ukraine ahead of Saturday's Premier League fixture away at Aston Villa.
The club teamed up with main club partner Sportsbet.io, which has an office in Kyiv, to provide free scarves for the 3,000 travelling fans as a sign of solidarity.
Supporters travelling to the game will find the scarves on their seats ahead of kick-off - the scarves will be in Southampton's away colours of yellow and blue to represent the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Molineux and Carrow Road both expressed similar sentiment with splashes of blue and yellow ahead of Wolves vs Crystal Palace and Norwich vs Brentford respectively.