A sign of Russia's boom times is that Zenit St Petersburg, bankrolled by the energy giant Gazprom, plan to take up their entire 13,000 ticket allocation for Wednesday's Uefa Cup final against Rangers in Manchester. But unlike many other Russian teams, they will take the field without one black player. "They have always known the fans would be against it," says a Zenit hooligan to Marc Bennetts. An Englishman who has lived in Moscow for over a decade, speaks the language and is an avowed fan of Russian football, Bennetts has produced an engrossing, authoritative account of the game in his adopted country as it makes a growing mark in Europe. Yet he does not shy away from the endemic corruption, racism and hooliganism, including a hair-raising account of how one team manager hired gun-toting thugs to attack five of his own players, whom he suspected of taking bribes to throw games. More Russian roulette than the beautiful game at times, it seems.
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