Liverpool worried about racist abuse in Russia when they play Zenit St Petersburg
Reds travel to Russia this week for a Europa League tie
Tuesday 12 February 2013
Liverpool will tell their players they should not walk off if they are racially abused at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday night unless the referee orders it.
The club have "major concerns" about the potential for problems around their last-32 Europa League game in Russia because of Zenit fans' reputation for racism.
St Petersburg supporters published a document last December stating they did not want the squad to contain any non-white or homosexual players but the Liverpool managing director, Ian Ayre, will warn Brendan Rodgers team not to react to any provocation.
"We plan to speak to the players about it," Ayre said. "The most important thing is that they remain professional throughout this. The important thing is that we let them know how we expect them to act if there is an incident.
"I'd much rather we take the incident off the pitch and we deal with it. Obviously the referee has a role to play within that. But we'll be briefing our players on what's acceptable and what's not."
The Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off after being racially targeted during a friendly match last month and was widely praised for his stance but Ayre will tell Liverpool's players the club will ensure action is taken against anyone who abuses them.
"We'll take the right action," he said. "Anything that happens off the pitch, we'll work very closely with the authorities. I'll ensure we do whatever we need to do to protect our players.
"[Racist behaviour] has been a major concern for us. I wrote to Uefa very recently expressing our concerns – and also to Zenit. The most we can do is make our feelings clear ahead of the game, and hope that we get an adequate response and adequate support on the night."
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey may be sheltered from the atmosphere after his poor display in Monday's 2-0 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
He failed to make an impact on his first league outing of the year after being called on to deputise for injured striker Daniel Sturridge but responded angrily to critical fans afterwards.
Shelvey, hauled off after an hour, tweeted: "Love people giving me stick. When half of people on here haven't got a clue what they're on about."
The 20-year-old admitted last week that undisclosed "personal issues" were a factor in his poor performance in Liverpool's defeat at Stoke on Boxing Day, since when he had not featured in the Premier League before this week.
He clearly struggled on Monday night, though he was certainly not the only player to underperform for Liverpool. The defender Daniel Agger apologised for his role in Albion's two late goals.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Emirates was the easy option for Mesut Ozil. He needs a leader - and Arsenal don't have them
Ronaldinho dream XI: John Terry, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele are in as former Barcelona superstar names ideal side
UFC champion Ronda Rousey leaves presenter with broken ribs after he claims 'she can't compete with a man'
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo shows off his dance moves, including the moonwalk
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'