Chelsea owner named in 2018 probe 

Chelsea owner named in 2018 probe 

Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (pictured) has become involved in the scandal over the award of the next two World Cups after the much-delayed Garcia report revealed a football foundation linked to the billionaire “destroyed” computers used by Russia’s bid team for the 2018 tournament.

The 39-page probe confirmed that Russia 2018 leased computers from the Konoplyov Football Academy, for which Abramovich’s Academy of Football had run the administration since 2006.

In November 2014 it was reported that the bid committee had made “only a limited amount of documents available for review” by investigators after the computers were destroyed upon being returned to their owner.

The donor apparently claimed the computers “were considered obsolete”.

There is no allegation that Abramovich authorised their destruction but his links to the firm involved in the destruction of potentially key information might embarrass the Chelsea owner. He was part of the Russia delegation sent to the December 2010 vote in Zurich.

It was reported last week that Abramovich is ready to spend over £200 million on new signings following a private meeting with his manager Antonio Conte.

The Times said Abramovich met the Italian coach to talk about transfer targets as well as a new contract.

Conte, who has been reportedly unhappy with the lack of direct communication with Abramovich, was told that Chelsea’s squad would receive significant improvement this summer.

The English champions are expected to complete the signings of Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and Juventus left-back Alex Sandro but Conte is also targeting a new striker and central defender.

The Garcia report said the Konoplyov Football Academy leased the computers as the Russia bid committee “lacked sufficient funding” but the committee’s chief executive, Alexey Sorokin, said Abramovich did not fund the campaign.

In 2014, Sorokin told Sky Sports News: “We rented the equipment, we had to give it back, then it went back – we don’t even know where it went – to some sports schools, so quite naturally other people used it.

“Whatever we could supply, everything we could supply to the investigation we did. But we have to bear in mind that four years have passed since then, so some of the information we could just forget, naturally.”

The findings appeared to end any prospect of the report being used to strip Russia of the World Cup but on Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 it said the campaign “served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process”.

Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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