Joe Ricketts: Potential Chelsea owner’s anti-Muslim comments shock Demba Ba

Joe Ricketts may have caused some problems for his family’s bid to become the new owners of Chelsea.

Following sanctions against Roman Abramovich, the London club are on the market. Now in the hands of the American bank The Raine Group, Chelsea desperately need new ownership. Government sanctions have severely restricted the club’s running, making every game more stressful for the European Champions.

Despite this, they have many potential suitors, from Saudi media groups to US sports team owners.

Prominent frontrunners include a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly and Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, and former British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton.

However, the Ricketts family are among the favourites for a takeover.

The Ricketts family bid

Owners of the Chicago Cubs, one of Major League Baseball’s most historic franchises, the Ricketts have plenty of experience running a sports team. They also tried to buy Chelsea in 2018; the Ricketts hope that the previous groundwork from their 2018 bid can help them be successful this time around.

Their bid in 2022 is alongside super-wealthy businessman Ken Griffin. With an estimated net worth of £20 billion, Griffin brings substantial financial support to the Ricketts’ bid.

Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is the leader of the family’s attempt to buy the London club. He confirmed their bid, along with Griffin, comfortably before Friday’s deadline. Reports suggest their offer is over $3 billion, putting them well in the hunt.

Yet, old comments by Tom’s father, Joe Ricketts, may throw a spanner in the works.

Joe Ricketts comments shock Demba Ba

Joe Ricketts’ Islamophobic comments first leaked in 2019. Dating back to 2009, Rickett’s sent multiple emails with anti-Islam rhetoric and racist comments.

For example, he wrote (quote from The Independent): “Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims.”

Other emails contained similar shocking statements, where Ricketts called the religion a “cult” and “a thing of evil.” In addition, his emails included racist jokes, remarks about then-President Barack Obama, and other horrible comments about the Muslim faith.

Unsurprisingly, the leaking of these emails to the public caused outrage. In 2019, Joe Ricketts apologized for the emails, saying that he “strongly believes that bigoted ideas are wrong.”

However, the damage had been done. With the comments out there for everyone to see, Chelsea fans and former players have seen them and taken offence.  

The comments shocked former Chelsea striker Demba Ba, who retweeted a screenshot of the emails with the caption: “He surely didn’t say that, did he?????”

As a Muslim himself, Ba must be shocked that a club that he has such close ties to is even considering the Ricketts, given Joe’s past.

Some are also concerned that if the Ricketts become the new owners, Chelsea’s Muslim players may try to leave. This could see the exit of N’Golo Kante, Hakim Ziyech, and Antonio Rudiger, among others.

The bidding war for the London club still rages on, but it may not just be the money that decides the new owner. The controversy stemming from Joe Ricketts’ bigoted statements may cost his family their chance.