Chelsea owner Abramovich gets Portuguese citizenship

Thousands of Israeli Jews have been granted Portuguese citizenship since the law was passed in 2015.

Roman Abramovich (photo credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)
Roman Abramovich
(photo credit: CHELSEA FC/COURTESY)

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has received Portuguese citizenship as part of the country’s law of return for Jews of Sephardi descent. 

Abramovich had been researching his family history over a number of years and discovered that parts of his family came from Portugal, before being expelled, and ended up Hamburg, Germany. 

Thousands of Israeli Jews have been granted Portuguese citizenship since the law was passed in 2015. The number of such applications has risen in Portugal since a similar citizenship offer to Sephardi Jews by Spain ended in 2019.

Applicants' genealogies are vetted by experts who also look for evidence of interest in Sephardi culture.

Abramovich has donated money to projects honoring the legacy of Portuguese Sephardi Jews in the German city of Hamburg, according to the Jewish Community of Porto's information portal Mazal.

 Flag of Portugal (illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Flag of Portugal (illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Around 300,000 Jews lived in Spain when, in 1492, monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ordered them and the country’s Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave. Tens of thousands fled to Portugal, only to be persecuted there or expelled in 1496.