Liverpool worried about racist abuse in Russia when they play Zenit St Petersburg

Reds travel to Russia this week for a Europa League tie

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.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own