I was made to support Arsenal
Formula One star Lewis Hamilton, who is part of a consortium bidding to buy Chelsea, has said he was forced to support Arsenal as a child, although he now describes himself as a “sporting fan.”
Hamilton and tennis star Serena Williams have joined a consortium led by Sir Martin Broughton to buy Chelsea. Representatives for the seven-time F1 champion said he planned to invest more than £10 million ($13m).
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“When I was young, around the corner from where I lived, I used to play football with all the kids and a couple of close friends at the time. I really wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of colour there,” Hamilton said.
“I knew all the kids supported someone different, one was Tottenham Hotspur, one was Manchester United. I remember switching between these teams when I was younger and getting home and my sister Sam punching me several times in the arm, basically beat me, saying ‘You have to support Arsenal!’
“I remember 5, 6 years old that I then became a supporter of Arsenal. But my Uncle Terry is a big Blues fan, so I’ve been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play. Ultimately I’m a sporting fan — it is the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and most successful.
“When I heard about the opportunity I was like, ‘Wow, this is one of the greatest opportunities to be part of something so great.'”
Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own multiple teams including the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, are also backing Broughton’s bid.
Hamilton said he joined the bid with 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams as a way to better engage with the community.
“We did speak about it. We spoke multiple times. Serena and I are very close, so we are constantly in touch. She’s a phenomenal athlete and woman. We spoke about it, she asked me what my thoughts were about it, and I told her that I’m going to be a part of it and she was excited to join,” Hamilton said.
“Firstly, we are trying to acquire a team and move it forward. This is a team, it’s all about the community. That’s what really makes a football team, it’s the people in and around it. They’ve been quite leading in their work in D&I and becoming more diverse and progressive. So it’s not that we’re associating ourselves with previous owners, our goals is to continue some of the work that they’ve already done and have even more of an impact and engage more with the community.”
Hamilton, who is a seven-time F1 champion, said he would not be as “hands-on” as others in the consortium should their bid for the club be successful, but he added he is keen to be involved as a way to “educate fans.”
“Well, at the moment, my primary focus is continuing in Formula 1, and this isn’t my first business venture or investment. But yeah, it’s something that I’m excited about. I would say for sure early on I wouldn’t be able to be as hands-on as some of the other people that are a part of it,” he added.
“We haven’t won it yet, but if we do, there’s lots of opportunity to be involved more and more over time, which is super exciting and particularly beyond racing, of wanting to help with the success they’ve already had and help it be even more successful. The part we are very aligned in and what they’ve already done there is D&I. You see in that sport there is a lot more work that needs to be done to be diverse and more inclusive. It’s an amazing platform to bring in and educate a lot of the amazing fans that are out there.”
There are two others bids for Chelsea — L.A. Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca — being considered by U.S. bank Raine Group, which is overseeing the sale.
Chelsea were put up for sale by Russian owner Roman Abramovich amid sanctions against him by the U.K. government following the invasion of Ukraine.