Zenit St. Petersburg fans have come out to the press and masses alike by saying that they are not happy with black or gay players on their team. Now, they’re claiming that it’s not racism or homophobia, that it’s a tradition of home or somewhat close to home players being drafted on their squad. “We’re not racists but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition.” said the fan club, Landscrona. They also wrote: “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.”
Sounds like some post-Cold War fans of the USSR. (Too soon?) Though, Zenit fans are known for their strong right-wing nationalist preferences.
Several very gifted black players have turned down very seductive offers from the wealthy club for reasons in the ballpark of death threats by fans. A Zenit spokesperson said that the club would not comment on the letters.
Former Russian and Zenit striker Alexander Panov says that the fans have no damn right to pick and choose who comes in or goes out. (Those are my own words to summarize Panov’s views hence the lack of quotation marks. Moving on!)
Panov told the press “If we don’t have enough good players from St Petersburg, then what should the club do?” and “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.”
Several Zenit senior players have been quite unhappy with the £60 million, collectively, spent on Brazilian forward Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel (both black and not green) and the club is allegedly “in turmoil.”
And while your taking all that in, here’s this: