Chelsea’s first black player Paul Canoville has admitted that he is not impressed by Sir Martin Broughton’s plans for celebrities including Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams to head up the club’s anti-racism campaigns.
The sporting superstars each pledged about £ 10million to the £ 2.5billion bid fronted by Broughton to buy the west London outfit following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich by the UK Government.
While Hamilton’s involvement is primarily a business matter, he also wants to push ‘diversity and inclusion’ in the sport, which would appear to correspond with Canoville’s desire ‘to see more done’ by the Blues ‘around equality and commitment to anti-racism’ .
But posting on his Twitter account, Canoville said while he respected what tennis giant Serena Williams, her sister Venus and F1 star Hamilton have done in their respective sports and in terms of civil rights issues, he insisted their support of other clubs is ‘disrespectful’ to the Chelsea fan base.
‘Over the last week I have seen things appearing in the media which I found worrying,’ Canoville wrote.
‘When I met Michael Broughton he spoke about this concept of celebrities heading up our club’s Diversity and Inclusion programs I was not impressed.
‘Don’t anyone get me wrong, I am a huge fan of both Serena and Lewis. Both Williams sisters have been phenomenal achievers and proud advocates of civil rights issues. Ticks a big box personally of course.
‘As far as playing a role in developing anti-racism, diversity and inclusion programs for Chelsea though, I feel this is disrespectful of our own supporter base.
Paul Canoville says he has not been left impressed by Sir Martin Broughton’s plans for celebrities to head up Chelsea’s anti-racism campaigns
Lewis Hamilton (left) and Serena Williams (right) are prepared to pledge around £ 10million each to Broughton’s bid to buy Chelsea
‘Serena is on record saying she supports Real Madrid and while I know Lewis has now suggested he was bullied into supporting Arsenal by his sister, he is an Arsenal fan and that’s a fact.
‘I will always support Lewis Hamilton in everything he does in F1, he is the greatest driver ever in my opinion and as with Serena, he is a phenomenal icon for black achievement and civil rights.
‘With football though, I think he should stay loyal to his own team.’
When questioned last week about Chelsea’s previous owners’ human rights record, Hamilton said ‘we’re trying to acquire a team and move it forwards.’
‘It’s all about the community,’ he added. ‘That’s what really makes a football team, the people in and around it.
Canoville said he respected Serena Williams (L) and sister Venus’ (R) achievements in tennis and in discussing civil rights issues
‘They’ve been quite leading in their work in D&I, becoming more diverse and progressive. It’s not that we’re associating ourselves with previous owners, our goal is to continue the work they’ve already done, having more of an impact and engaging more with the community. ‘
‘They’ve already done lots in anti-racial campaigns, antisemitism. There’s a lot of core values they have that are aligned with mine and I hope over time I can be more and more involved. ‘
But Canoville’s criticism of Hamilton comes after he had always claimed he was a fan of London rivals Arsenal, which he said – ahead of Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola – he was bullied into by his sister.
‘I have been a football fan since I was a kid,’ he said. ‘I played from four to 17 and for the school team every year. I tried out for Stevenage Borough.
Canoville’s criticism of F1 star Hamilton came due to his previous claims he is an Arsenal fan
‘I played football round the corner from where I lived, and I wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of color. They all supported different teams – I switched around. One was Tottenham, one was Manchester United.
‘I then got home and my sister, Sam, punched me several times in the arm and beat me to say,’ ‘You have to support Arsenal’ ‘.
‘At five or six I supported Arsenal but my Uncle Terry is a big Blues fan and I have been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play.
‘Ultimately, I am a sports fan and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world. When I heard about this opportunity, I was like ” wow ”. It would be great to be part of something like that. ‘
Sir Martin Broughton’s bid is one of the three being considered by US merchant bank Raine
But Broughton’s consortium are one of three shortlisted bidders contacted by the Raine Group, the merchant bank handling the sale of the club.
And recent reports suggest bidders for the club will have to guarantee that they will not sell up for at least a decade.
Sky News added the bidding groups have been told the 10-year demand would only apply to the controlling parties in each consortium.
Whoever replaces Abramovich would also be able to raise money by issuing additional shares to provide additional funding for the club.