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Zenit fans speak out against Africans and gays in squad

Published time: December 17, 2012 08:59
Edited time: December 18, 2012 11:34
Zenit's fans on the stands at a match of the Russian Football Premier League. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Zenit's fans on the stands at a match of the Russian Football Premier League. (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Zenit Saint Petersburg fans are demanding there should be no players from Africa or Latin America as well as gays in the team's lineup.

­They've written a 'manifesto' called ‘Selection-12’, which sums up the views of the majority of the organized Zenit supporters on the club’s transfer policies.

The manifesto urges Zenit to turn away from the path which in their view leads to the side losing their mental ties with the city of Saint Petersburg.

It also suggests the club shouldn’t purchase players from its big rivals and explains the fan’s negative attitude towards African and Latin American footballers, which, according to them, has nothing to do with racism.

"For us, the absence of black players in Zenit is an important tradition and nothing more,” Metro newspaper cites the ‘Selection-12’ manifesto. “Due to its preservation the club has their own recognizable face in the football world – along with a few other clubs, who still hold on to their identity. As the most northern club among the big European cities, we have never been mentally connected with Africa as well as South America, Australia and Oceania."

The fans believe Zenit’s football academy is the best source of reinforcement for their team’s lineup.  

They say that if the Russian champions still want to attract players from outside, they should first of all turn their eyes to Russia, the Slavic states, Scandinavia and Western Europe.    

"No other parts of the world should be in priority,”
the document stressed. “And there is no racism or nationalism here. The club is just losing its regional identity and we cease to associate ourselves with them. We go from the fact that Zenit is a symbol of our city. Therefore it should reflect its essence, represent its face. It’s principal for us that Zenit would keep its identity, not turning into an average European club with a standard set of foreigners.”

The St Pete supporters are well-known for “There’s no black in the colors of Zenit” motto.

This summer they disrupted Yann M'Vila's move to Zenit by sending death threats to the black French player.

Many are also unhappy with the club’s purchase of star-forward Hulk as there was even a home-made bomb with a picture of the Brazilian on it discovered outside Zenit’s training base.

And it’s not only black people, who are unwelcome as the manifesto also states: “we stand against the representatives of sexual minorities playing for Zenit”.

‘Selection-12’ has been discussed on the biggest Zenit fans Internet forum, with 90 per cent of the debate participants voting in its favor.

The full version of the document is to be made public in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Zenit hurried to point out that the club has nothing to do with the manifesto and doesn’t share the ideas of its authors.

“Zenit football club have always been tolerant, bringing together players of different nationalities and faiths,” Zenit’s press-service told R-Sport news agency. “Moreover, our club has millions of fans from all over the world. And Saint Petersburg is an open city, which historically unites different cultures. We want to remind everybody that the players are invited to our team, not on the basis of ethnicity or race, but only because of their athletic abilities and achievements.”