Roman Abramovich: Man with the Midas Touch

#22: Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich (photo credit: CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB)
Roman Abramovich
Although he became Israeli relatively recently, Roman Abramovich has had deep business and philanthropic ties to Israel for several years. He has owned property in Tel Aviv for quite some time, in addition to the homes he owns in London, New York and Moscow. Over the last year, the owner of Chelsea Football Club has worked to raise awareness about the need to fight antisemitism, taking his players and teams to Israel, the US and Auschwitz to campaign against the rise in hate around the world.
“An important part of solving antisemitism is education,” explained Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck in a recent interview, adding that the goal of the campaign “is to make a little dent in this enormous issue.”
Chelsea has created a guide for safety officers and stewards to combat antisemitism within its own home at Stamford Bridge, with the focus on educating those who spread antisemitism.
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Abramovich and US billionaire Robert Kraft teamed up earlier this year and held a joint match for their soccer teams to promote tolerance. Kraft owns the New England Revolution in addition to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
In Israel, Abramovich’s investments are primarily in high-tech startups, but in 2015, he purchased the Versano Boutique Hotel in Neve Tzedek from Yaron Versano, who is married to Wonder Woman Gal Gadot and resides in Los Angeles. Abramovich calls the hotel his home in Israel.
Russian-born Abramovich became an Israeli citizen in May 2018 after British authorities refused to issue a visa for his Russian passport due to what was reported at the time as a diplomatic falling out between the UK and Russia.
It stands to reason that Avraham Grant, the well-known Israeli soccer coach who has worked with several international teams - including as manager of Chelsea - would be among Abramovich’s circle of friends. Grant told Abramovich about an organization that fulfills the dreams of children with debilitating and life-threatening illnesses, adding that a number of them were keen football fans. Abramovich paid for more than 30 children to travel to Russia and watch the World Cup live.
In June, Abramovich donated $5 million to the Jewish Agency toward its efforts to combat global antisemitism.
He has also given generously to Tel Aviv University, including a recent $30 million commitment to its new Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, which is slated to open in 2020.
Long before that, he was a major force in reviving Jewish life in Russia. Abramovich has donated tens of millions of dollars to support the work of the 160-plus communities that operate under the umbrella of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.