Threatening Abramovich ally would be 'suicide', soccer agent tells London court

  • Football
  • Thursday, 25 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FA Cup Semi Final - Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 17, 2022 Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and technical & performance advisor Petr Cech before the match REUTERS/David Klein/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - A soccer agent on Wednesday denied threatening a senior director at the English Premier League club Chelsea in an email, telling a London court that trying to intimidate an ally of former owner Roman Abramovich would be a "suicide mission".

Saif Rubie is on trial over an email he sent to Marina Granovskaia in May 2022 demanding a six-figure commission for the transfer of French defender Kurt Zouma from Chelsea to West Ham the previous year.

In the email, Rubie told Granovskaia: "I'm sure you've heard the story about your other friend Kia when he owed me money for a year and how he ended up paying it.

"Wouldn't want you to be in the same situation just because you have a personal issue with me."

Prosecutors allege that was a reference to an incident involving soccer agent Kia Joorabchian, citing claims that he was accosted in a restaurant years earlier and had his watch taken before being presented with demands for money at his office.

Granovskaia, Chelsea's director of football under Abramovich from 2014 to 2022, gave evidence on Tuesday that Rubie's email had "made me feel threatened".

Rubie has pleaded "not guilty" to one charge under the Malicious Communications Act.

He told jurors at his trial at Southwark Crown Court that the reference to Joorabchian in his email was intended to mean that he would take legal action against Chelsea or Granovskaia.

"All I'm guilty of is sending an angry email," Rubie said.

Rubie's lawyer Matthew Radstone asked: "Did you intend to threaten her?" Rubie replied: "Legally, of course, one million percent. But anything else? Never."

Rubie said: "I'm sending an email to a woman that's the right hand of Roman Abramovich, one of the biggest Russian businessmen in the world.

"I'm only Saif Rubie ... I don't think I would be stupid enough to be threatening anybody, let alone somebody with the might of Roman Abramovich (behind them)."

He added: "That would just be me on a suicide mission."

Rubie will conclude his evidence on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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