In one of the most Kafkaesque stories in the world of soccer, Adrian Mutu has been ordered to pay over €17 million to Chelsea after the failure of his most recent appeal in the European Court for Human Rights. Currently employed as the reserves coach at UAE club Al Wahda, it’s unlikely that Mutu has anything close to that sum lying around. His objections for the past decade have revolved around an Abramovich associate sitting on the panels deciding his fate, which seems pretty reasonable.
As a quick background to this absurdity, Chelsea bought Mutu from Parma in 2003 for €22.5 million. After clashes with José Mourinho saw the striker dropped from the squad, he was popped for a positive cocaine test in September 2004 and banned for 7 months by FIFA. Chelsea terminated his contract as well, so he signed for Juventus in January 2005 (despite remaining in FIFA exile) in a deal that involved Livorno as well to sneak around the Bianconeri adding another non-EU player. When Juve was relegated at the start of the following year, Fiorentina bought him for €8 million, leading to a 5-year spell in Florence that was undoubtedly the best of his career and saw him become perhaps the most complete striker in Italy.
Chelsea, however, weren’t finished with the player: in 2005, the London club began seeking financial compensation from Mutu for breach of contract. Despite a long-running set of appeals, the club has him on the hook for nearly €18 million and apparently has no intention of letting the matter drop, confirming that they were still coming for Mutu’s accounts.
I know that we cringe/laugh about the Della Valles’ pettiness at times—threatening to sue Mohamed Salah leaps to mind—but this is a whole different level. Roman Abramovich and his club aren’t really hurting for money. Considering that Deloitte ranked the Blues as the 8th-richest outfit in the world with a net worth of €428 million, this feels like an action born not of necessity but of vindictiveness. It’s been more than 15 years since Mutu’s positive cocaine test. Chelsea have clearly moved on.
Adi, for his part, has been fairly quiet on the subject. Because he is who he is, though, he can’t keep his name out of the headlines even now. Reports earlier this week from Romania detailing the arrest of Alexandru Mihăilescu, who was part of the team he assembled when he was in charge of the Romanian FA, was arrested for possession of 20 grams of cocaine, 3 mobile phones, and a boatload of cash in a parking lot last week indicate that there’s a larger narcotics network involved. While nobody has named Mutu, there seems to be an expectant hush among news outlets.
Another expensive, high-profile legal issue is last thing the 40-year-old legend needs right now, as he’ll probably need to declare bankruptcy to get the debt collectors off his back. While Adrian Mutu is nobody’s idea of an angel, or even a wholly sympathetic character, it’s absurd that he’s spent nearly have of his life pursued by Abramovich’s financial Furies. This is a case of one of the biggest, richest clubs in the world trying to squeeze money out of a former player just because it can. If that seems like justice to you, well, we probably don’t have too much to talk about anymore. Letting this one fade quietly away, or at least coming to an agreement with the player, feels a lot more civilized.