Zenit fan group does not want gay or black players

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A Zenit St Petersburg supporters' group has called for non-white and gay players to be excluded from the team.

Landscrona, the largest fan club of the Russian champions, deny that they are racist, instead citing the club's tradition as the reason for their forthright views.

In an open letter, they said: "We are not racist but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition.

"It would allow Zenit to maintain the national identity of the club, which is the symbol of St Petersburg."

Until this summer, Zenit were the only top-flight Russian team without a black player, whilst they are also yet to sign an African player.

"We only want players from our 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."

Landscrona also went on to state that gay players were 'unworthy of our great city.'

A club spokesman moved quickly to distance themselves from the fans.

Over the past 12 months, some prominent black players have turned down lucrative offers from Zenit after receiving death threats.

In 2008, former coach Dick Advocaat admitted in an interview that he was unable to sign black players due to the fear of a fans backlash.

"I would be happy to sign anyone, but the fans don't like black players," said the former Holland coach. "Quite honestly, I do not understand how they could pay so much attention to skin colour."

In the summer, Zenit broke with tradition in buying Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel - the duo signing on transfer deadline day for a combined fee of more than £60 million.

It led to an incident with captain Igor Denisov, who was sent to train with the reserve squad. Aleksandr Kerzhakov was also punished, but both players were allowed to re-join the first-team after they made an apology.

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