Imola: If you can’t play soccer, buy a soccer club. That was part of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton’s thinking when he joined a consortium that is bidding to buy Premier League club Chelsea. Lewis Hamilton, along with 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, is part of a group trying to buy Chelsea from sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
The British driver, a seven-time Formula One champion and a longtime fan of rival London team Arsenal, spoke of his passion for the game since he was a young child.
“Ultimately, I’m a sporting fan. Football is the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs and very successful,” Hamilton said Friday.
“And when I heard about this opportunity, I was like, ‘Wow, this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something so, so great’. When I was younger, I was trying to be the best player I could be and actually play for a team … but then I ended up following racing. As a kid, I could have only ever dreamt of being part of a team and an actual integral part of a team, so that’s for me is one of the most exciting things,” Hamilton added.
The bid – one of three that is still in the running to buy the club – is being fronted by former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
Hamilton said it was Broughton who persuaded him to join the consortium.
“Well, naturally I heard about it in the news. Everyone’s obviously aware of it. And yeah, we were contacted and Sir Martin spoke to me on the phone and explained his and his team’s goals for if they were to win the bid. It was incredibly exciting and it was very much aligned with my values,” Hamilton stated.
Hamilton, in turn, helped convince Williams – who is a minority stakeholder in the Miami Dolphins NFL team. “We spoke multiple times. Serena and I are very close, so we’re constantly in touch,” he said.
“You know, she’s a phenomenal athlete and woman. We spoke about it, she asked me what my thoughts were on it. And I told her that I’m going to be a part of it, and she was excited to join,” Hamilton added.
Of the two other consortiums bidding for Chelsea, one is spearheaded by American businessman Todd Boehly, the part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The other has been made by Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Canadian businessman Larry Tanenbaum.
Hamilton stressed that the consortium he is part of is not sure of emerging victorious. But he said that if they do win, they already have some plans in place of how they are going to take the soccer club forward.
One of those is promoting diversity. Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, has long used his celebrity status to become an activist against racism.
“The part that we’re all very aligned in is DNI (diversity and inclusion), for example, and what they (the club) have already done there,” Hamilton informed.
“You’re seeing that in the sport, there is still a lot of work to be done to being more diverse and more inclusive. It’s an amazing platform to bring in and educate a lot of the amazing fans that are out there. And there’s some amazing talent within the team already that have really stood up against discrimination and worked very closely with the organisation to move forward. And I know that’s really important for, I think, the fans of Chelsea,” added the former F1 champion.
But currently for Hamilton, there’s an F1 career to focus on as he tries to regain the title he lost to Max Verstappen last season.
“Well at the moment my primary focus is as continuing in Formula One. However, then this isn’t my first business venture or investment,” the Mercedes driver said. “But yeah it’s something that I’m excited about,” Hamilton signed off.