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RUSSIA: Abramovich and the Chelsea soccer club

From Moscow, Cameron Sawyer writes: "So Abramovich has bought the Chelsea soccer club? Ha; I hadn't heard. Despite the historic connection between Russia and Paris, Russians have come to love London, and over the last few years rich Russians have made a noticeable impact on the prices of residential real estate in prestigious neighborhoods like Mayfair. I have no knowledge of Abramovich s motivations in buying a London soccer club (!) but I would suspect that this is neither for profit nor for prestige, but rather as a toy. Perhaps simply so that he feels like more of a Londoner. I ll ask him if I run into him.

Paying $250 million for a soccer club seems quite silly to me, but no more than other aspects of mass-market spectator sports including the salaries of famous baseball players, football players, soccer stars etc. But it is a fact that sports are a big business, and there is no way to get around it. Shall we nationalize sports clubs? By what right? Shall we ban soccer altogether? When I commented on football hooliganism, I was thinking of the spiritual aspects of it, not the commercial side. Christianity teaches us that human beings are inherently flawed and inclined to silliness, and evil, as well as genius, and good. Society can help provide better circumstances for people to develop their good sides, but we cannot remake human nature. I consider soccer, and everything connected with it, to be a vulgar and stupid waste of time, at the very best, and at its worst a barbaric orgy of hooliganism. But that does not give me the right to decide for other people whether to buy tickets to soccer games, and for other people to organize soccer teams as a commercial enterprise. That utopianism, inspired by Rousseau, which would say otherwise, is the same impulse which gave us such disastrous social engineering projects as Communism and Fascism. If we decline to go down that philosophical road, then we do have to put up certain human follies like soccer, and not only soccer".

RH: Alas!

Ronald Hilton - 7/11/03