As for “the facade of Russian dirty money in London”, Johnson’s Conservative Party has been relentless in its pursuit of the dirty money it now deplores. He appointed Ben Elliot, a nephew of Camilla, the wife of the Prince of Wales, as deputy chairman of the party in charge of fundraising, and as Johnson an Etonian. Elliot runs the Quintessentially Group, the exquisitely named “concierge service” that provides every conceivable or even unimaginable “luxury lifestyle management” facility for people who can pay enough, including Russian billionaires. The company has numerous offices abroad, including one in Russia which was quickly closed when Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border, but not before quantities of Russian money found their way into the coffers of conservatives.
But nothing better illustrates the sparkling corruption of our time than sport, internationally and in England. When Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, a BBC interviewer observed that since he was only 36 and extremely wealthy, some people might understandably be suspicious of him, to which he gave the wonderful answer: “There are many rich young people in Russia.” We don’t live that long, so we earn it and spend it. And I realize my dream of owning a top football club. Realizing this, he poured huge sums into the club, buying a group of brilliant players and winning the Premier League pennant five times and the European Champions League twice, among many other trophies.
On top of that, his friendship with Putin was very important in securing Russia the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the gloriously corrupt international football body that even more outrageously awarded this year’s World Cup to Qatar. , rich in oil and poor in democracy, two fine exercises. in “sportswashing”, or the use of sport to embellish the image of unpleasant diets. And Abramovich created a fashion in English football, which welcomed foreign money no matter where it came from. Two wealthier Russians invested in other clubs, Manchester City triumphed when it belonged to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, and Newcastle have just set a new standard for what football authorities facetiously call “fit people”. and suitable” who may own clubs when it was sold to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. In practice, it means “MBS”, the famous or infamous Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, crown prince and executor of the country. My first reaction to the sale was to hope that if Newcastle lost any more games the manager would not be summoned to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. We would still like to see it in one piece. Newcastle played Chelsea on Sunday, and the day before their new owners showed their views on Western namby-pamby human rights concerns by executing 81 people. Why, that’s almost one for every 90 minutes of a football game!
As for Chelsea, their repulsive fans, who still live in a moral cesspool, held up a banner on Sunday with the former leader’s face and the slogan ‘The Roman Empire’. In reality, Chelsea are now in a complete financial vacuum. Abramovich can’t sell the club but their assets are frozen, the club’s credit cards are stopped, their sponsors have jumped ship, no new tickets can be sold for their home games at Stamford Bridge and the club could soon be unable to pay the huge wage bill of its millionaire players. (For full disclosure, as a lifelong Arsenal supporter, I have tried to keep a schadenfreude smirk from my lips as I wrote this sentence.)