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FIFPro welcomed the statement released by the Zenit St-Petersburg  management after the discriminating publication by one of its fan groups.

 

FIFPro strongly condemns the text released by these supporters.

 

Landscrona, a fan group of Russian champions Zenit, demanded the club to refrain from buying black and gay players, and to maintain the national identity of the club.

 

The fans added that they only approve the arrival of players from ‘brotherly Slav nations’ (such as Ukraine and Belarus), Baltic or Scandinavian countries.

 

Zenit’s director of sports, Dietmar Beiersdorfer, reacted with a statement on the club’s website. ‘Our goal is to win the Russian championship and to be highly competitive in international competitions as well. We make our player selections without any limitation regarding origin, religion or skin color. We have absolutely no policy in Zenit of limiting our player selection in any superficial way! (…) The one and only restriction our club sets is the matter of quality.’

 

‘We appreciate that Zenit quickly distanced itself from the scandalous words issued by some of their fans’, says FIFPro  spokesperson on anti-racism, Tony Higgins. ‘We expect that the Zenit management will back their words with their deeds, and that, speaking in Dietmar Beiersdorfer’s words, quality is and will remain the only restriction when signing players.’

 

‘Everybody must realize that football in 2013 is an international game with players from all over the world. That is what makes this game such a fantastic game. Russian football has made great strides in the past decade, with players from all over the globe arriving at the clubs. Footballers who have elevated the quality of the game in Russia, men like Samuel Eto’o, Roberto Carlos, Wagner Love, Emmanuel Emenike, Seydou Doumbia and many more.’

 

‘Unfortunately, the incident at Zenit once again shows, that the Russian FA still has a way to go in its fight against racism’, Higgins continues. ‘If Russia wants to be the perfect host for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, then it will have to do its utmost to guarantee that players will not be racially abused. In 2018, I expect many black players at the World Cup…’