Chelsea owner thwarted by UK visa regulations

10 Jan 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK visa regulations have prevented Roman Abramovich from bringing African porters to Britain to watch a Chelsea match.

The owner of the football club had wanted to bring the team to the UK after they helped him in his failed attempt to climb Kilimanjaro last year.

He had already provided the guides and porters with the usual tips and payments, but Mr Abramovich had promised ten locals the chance to see Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge.

The billionaire even wrote to British officials in Tanzania to ask for their assistance in acquiring UK visas for the porters' trip to Britain.

Club director Eugene Tenenbaum said in a letter to the British High Commission: "Chelsea Football Club is writing to ask for your assistance in issuing UK visas for a group of Tanzanian nationals to visit the UK." The letter added that the football club would be paying for the return air tickets and accommodation, as well as providing a chaperone for the men throughout their stay.

Despite the club's best efforts the UK visa applications were turned down.

Alexander Lemunge, the owner of East African Voyages Ltd and one of the men invited to the UK, remarked that it was "unbelievable" that "one of the most famous people on earth" invited his team to the UK.

However, he expressed his disappointment at the eventual outcome:"[The men] filled out all the forms, waited patiently and then were told they couldn't have visas."

Upon learning that he could not invite the porters to the UK, Mr Abramovich invited them to Russia instead.