Saturday, 26 July 2014

We don't want black or gay players! Zenit fans in shocking demand to club (in Russia - hosts of 2018 World Cup)

A group of fans of Russian side Zenit St Petersburg are calling for non-white and gay players to be excluded from their team.

This is another sign of the racism which plaguing the country that will host the World Cup in 2018.

Landscrona, the largest Zenit supporters' club, released a manifesto on Monday demanding the club field an all-white, heterosexual team.

It added that 'dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit's throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction' and said gay players were 'unworthy of our great city.'

Insult: Hulk (right) is a non-white player who plays for the Russian side

The club quickly sought to distance itself from the fans. Without directly referring to their manifesto, Zenit's Italian head coach, Luciano Spalletti, said on the club's website that 'tolerance for me is most of all the ability to understand and accept differences.'

'Furthermore, being tolerant means that you fight against any kind of stupidity,' he added.

The club, which is owned by state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, also told the R-Sport news agency it picked players on ability alone, insisting that 'the team's policy is aimed at development and integration into the world soccer community, and holds no archaic views.'

Zenit was the only top-flight Russian team without a black player until this summer, when it acquired Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel for 80 million euros.

French midfielder Yann M'Vila declined a move to the club in August after receiving death threats.

'I can personally assure you that I will do everything I can to help those who seek to explain to people what tolerance is, and the need to respect other cultures and traditions,' Spalletti said.

'I think that Zenit has proven through its work that the club understands what tolerance is, and what it means to have tolerant behavior. The team has gathered players from different countries and ethnic groups who work together to achieve a common goal, and work well.'

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