UEFA wades into Zenit racism quagmire

Moscow, Dec 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) European football's governing body UEFA has asked Russian football club Zenit St. Petersburg to clarify their position on the signing of black and gay players, according to their top fan club.

The "Landscrona" fan club published a controversial manifesto this week that called upon Zenit to refrain from signing such players.

In a follow-up statement defending the document Tuesday, the fan club said the undeserved furore it provoked had prompted football authorities to enquire as to whether the club held the same position.

"According to information that has recently come to light, UEFA noticed the situation and will try to find out the position of the club on this issue."

UEFA did not respond immediately to requests for confirmation.

The Landscrona said it did not understand why UEFA would get involved because the manifesto, named "Selection 12", is the sole work of the fan club, and Zenit should not have to answer for it.

"What's the problem? Selection 12 is not the point of view of Zenit football club, and neither its ideology nor its concept for future development, the club has made that clear."

Zenit had issued a statement insisting that "players get into our team not by nationalities and skin colour but sporting qualities and achievements".

The club have long attracted criticism as the only top Russian side never to have fielded a black player. Most fans do not consider Brazil star Hulk, who was signed in September, to fall into this category.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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