'We're not racists': Zenit St Petersburg fan group against black and gay players joining Russian champions
Monday 17 December 2012
The largest fan group of Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg have demanded the club refrain from buying black and gay players following turmoil surrounding the acquisition of Brazil striker Hulk.
"We're not racists but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition," Zenit fan club Landscrona said in a letter, called the "Selection 12 manifesto", posted on its website (http://www.landscrona.ru) on Monday.
"It would allow Zenit to maintain the national identity of the club, which is the symbol of St Petersburg."
Zenit have been the only top club in Russia to have never signed an African player while the northern city of St Petersburg is known to have a strong right-wing nationalist influence.
The fans said they want more home-grown or European players in the team.
"We only want players from other brotherly Slav nations, such as Ukraine and Belarus as well as from the Baltic states and Scandinavia. We have the same mentality and historical and cultural background as these nations," the letter said.
They also expressed their opposition to having "sexual minorities" in the team and demanded that each player would give "101 percent effort" in every match.
Several prominent black players have turned down lucrative offers from the wealthy club over the past 12 months after receiving death threats from Zenit fans, local media reported.
A Zenit spokesman said on Monday the club would not comment on the fans' letter.
Former Zenit and Russia striker Alexander Panov said the fans have no right to influence the club's selection policy.
"If we don't have enough good players from St Petersburg, then what should the club do?" the St Petersburg native was quoted as saying by local media.
"All clubs around the world have black players. If they are absent from Zenit - it's Zenit's problem. I don't think fans should demand the club buy or don't buy certain players. The fans have the right to go to the stadium or stay home."
Zenit have been in turmoil for the past few months with several senior players unhappy after the wealthy club splashed out more than $100 million on Brazilian Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel just before the transfer deadline.
Zenit demoted Russia skipper Igor Denisov to the reserve team in September after he refused to play, issuing an ultimatum to renegotiate his contract in line with what Hulk was making.
Denisov was later allowed to rejoin the first team after making an apology.
Latest in Sport
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Modesty of Louis van Gaal makes nice contrast with his old pupil Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid analysis: Toni Kroos control may give extra edge that enables Real Madrid to retain Champions League crown
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year