EPL

Shevchenko hopes for Chelsea resolution but focus remains with Ukraine

By Sports Desk March 21, 2022

Andriy Shevchenko is hopeful for a positive resolution to the upheaval at Chelsea, but insists his focus is with Ukraine amid its war with Russia.

Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine late in February after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The actions of Russia have led to widespread condemnation, with financial, sporting and political sanctions imposed on the nation in an attempt to deter the attacks.

Russian oligarch and Blues owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government, which froze his assets, after he previously announced his intention to sell the club.

Investment firm Raine Group is overseeing the process to sell the club, with any funds to be directed to a charitable organisation or into a frozen account.

While Shevchenko, who is Ukraine's all-time leading scorer and former coach, does not wish to see his former club Chelsea suffer as a result of Abramovich's involvement, he is concentrating on the tragedy unfolding in his homeland.

Asked about football and the ongoing Chelsea takeover speculation, he told the Daily Mail: "It doesn't exist. For me, it doesn't exist. I'm concentrating on delivering this message.

"I'm not looking at sport now. I know what's happening. But in this moment, sport is secondary for me. I'm not looking there. I'm concentrating on my country.

"People take their position but for me, the message which has been sprayed from the sport society is clear: stop the war.

"I understand what's going on with Chelsea. I get it. For the good of the club and the fans, this situation should get resolved. I hope it is. But I'm concentrating on Ukraine."

A section of Chelsea supporters came in for criticism for showing their vocal support for Abramovich during applause for Ukraine before an away game at Burnley, but Shevchenko still believes his old club deserve to come through a tough period,

"The history which Chelsea built cannot be cancelled," he continued. "The Chelsea fans will always stay behind the club because they love the club. I know it's a difficult moment.

"But I am also in a position where, with what is happening to my country, I want to appeal to everyone to play your part. Remember what is most important.

"I want only one thing: to bring the peace in my country, to stop the killing of innocent people, to stop the killing of kids. We all know war is cruel. But we cannot stand for that."

Shevchenko has previously asked people to join him in speaking out against the attacks as he called for peace to be restored.

He has also stayed in London during the conflict to help lead the humanitarian aid effort and raise awareness in England, but his family remain in Ukraine in solidarity with their compatriots.

The 45-year-old explained how he has been in contact with fellow Ukrainian footballers during the conflict, asking them to keep playing and representing their country.

"I always tell the boys: keep playing," he added. "You play for your country. This is a great message. The sport world is very united. It is against the war.

"[Oleksandr] Zinchenko, [Vitaliy] Mykolenko, [Andriy] Yarmolenko, [Roman] Yaremchuk, it's very important that the boys keep playing. I'm calling them. I'm supporting them. 

'We're united. It's the message of my campaign – play your part. Do whatever you can. Please, keep talking about Ukraine. We feel like we are not alone. If you support our athletes, you support us."

Ukraine's resistance has been fierce, with the progress of Russia's invasion much slower than anticipated.

"You feel every bomb that touches the ground because the house is shaking," said Shevchenko. "This is what the war is now. It's in that stage where the Russians surround the city and are just bombing. They don't stop. It's relentless. 

"It doesn't give the Ukrainian people the chance for humanitarian corridors. My mum is there. My sister is there. My uncle. My auntie. My cousin. My friends – some in the frontline.

"They stand for our country, for our freedom, for our choice, for our pride. We defend. We fight. We have to. We don't have a choice.

"The position of president Volodymyr Zelensky was very important. He could have left. But he sent a clear message to say he would stay and that we had to defend our country. That united the Ukrainian people. He stayed with them, and we won't give up.

"Ukraine's independence is only 30 years old. When I first started playing football, that was just when we became independent. From the first day to now, I've always been proud to be Ukrainian, and someone else is not going to dictate to us."

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