If you thought it was the furious fan backlash outside Stamford Bridge, the threat of players being kicked out of international competition, or the general media firestorm which forced Chelsea to pull out of the ill-fated Super League, you would be wrong.
It was actually the Kremlin which played a key part in it – at least according to one German newspaper.
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Bavarian outlet Suddeutsche Zeitung has spread rumors that omnipotent Kremlin officials contacted Abramovich with “an unequivocal statement” on Monday that the Super League project would be damaging for the “spirit of the fatherland.”
Specifically, those concerns are said to have been over the harm done to Russian giant Gazprom as a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, which the rebel 12 Super League clubs would be breaking away from.
The 2022 Champions League final is due to be held at the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg – President Putin’s hometown – while seven games will be held in the city at this summer’s UEFA European Championships.
“Abramovich has no desire for stress with President Putin. He just wants his fun,” the outlet claimed.