In December last year, a Zenit St Petersburg supporters group published a manifesto warning the club to avoid purchasing non-European and players of a sexual minority.

The document from Landscrona provoked worldwide condemnation, and it seems that problems remain in one of Russia's top clubs - Zenit say they cannot guarantee an incident-free match.

Liverpool face a tough challenge on and off the pitch tonight as they prepare to take on the Russian giants in the Europa League.

Anfield officials have raised concerns about the safety and well-being of their players, with managing director Ian Ayre writing to UEFA regarding the issue.

Liverpool have several black players in their ranks, including the likes of Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom.

Russian football fans have been embroiled in numerous race rows in years gone by, but Zenit hold the worst reputation of all. 

Former managers have complained about the constraints of being unable to buy black players, and there has never been a player of African descent in the squad.

Landscrona's manifesto, entitled 'Selection-12', calls for 'tradition'. It reads: "We're not racists but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition.

"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."

Yet Aleksei Rumyantsev, a prominent Zenit fan affiliated with the supporters group, believes the manifesto has nothing to do with racism and has denied all allegations.

Liverpool will hope for a trouble-free game, although based on recent events, the Anfield giants could be in for a difficult and challenging evening in more ways than one.


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