The Chicago Cubs’ billionaire owners are planning a meeting with Chelsea football team fans to defuse public outcry over claims they are racist and should deny a chance to buy the west London club.
Tom Ricketts, son of Joe Ricketts, is reportedly set to meet with representatives of two fan groups in London on Wednesday after Chelsea supporters launched a social media campaign against the family’s proposed suit for the club.
The hashtag #NoToRicketts trended on Twitter as outraged fans accused the family of harboring Islamophobic and racist sentiments.
“Our family rejects in the strongest terms hatred of any kind,” the Ricketts family said in a statement.
“Racism and Islamophobia have no place in our society. We have built deep and enduring partnerships with the Muslim community in Chicago, as well as all communities of color.”
Three years after decades-old emails emerged in which Joe Ricketts called Islam “a cult,” the Ricketts family is under renewed scrutiny.
Joe Ricketts, a self-made billionaire who made his fortune after building securities brokerage firm TD Ameritrade from scratch, issued a statement dismissing the emails.
Chelsea, which have several Muslim players in their squad, are up for sale after their current owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, was sanctioned by the British government earlier this month.
Abramovich, who is believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is reportedly trying to sell his UK-based assets amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Western governments are under intense pressure to punish Russian oligarchs believed to be Putin’s cronies.
In 2009, the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs, with Joe Ricketts using 34 million TD Ameritrade stock valued at $403 million to fund the purchase.
The Ricketts family is among ten different bidders looking to buy Chelsea. Raine Group, the American merchant bank handling the sale, is expected to announce a shortlist of four finalists later this week, Sports Illustrated reported.
Chelsea have made efforts to tackle racism from fans in recent years. In 2020, hidden camera footage obtained by The Athletic caught several supporters of the club making pro-Nazi salute.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/23/cubs-owner-meets-chelsea-fans-to-clear-air-on-racism-claims/ Cubs owner meets with Chelsea fans to address ‘racism’ allegations