Zenit supporters' group warns against buying black or gay players

A supporters' trust has written an open letter to the Russian club's officials, demanding that they refrain from signing footballers from outside neighbouring nations
Zenit St Petersburg's largest fan group have appealed to the club to not sign black or homosexual players.

The Russian giants are the only major side in the country to have never had a footballer of African descent on their books, and this is something that 'Landscrona' are keen to see upheld.

"We're not racists, and for us, we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition, which emphasises the identity of the club and nothing more," the letter, which was also posted on the fan club's website, reads

"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.

"We, as the most northern club of major European cities, have never been linked with Africa, nor South America, Australia or Oceania.

"We have absolutely nothing against the people of these or any other continents, but want Zenit players to be united in spirit and mentality.

"We do not understand the difference in public attitudes towards this notion. Why is Athletic Bilbao's approach, which involves only using players from their region, not accused of being racist?

"We fear that the club will take the path of Manchester City, Arsenal or Anzhi Makhachkala and many other clubs who buy players from around the world and no longer represent their region or city.

For us it is important to preserve Zenit's identity. We do not want to be another beautiful and perhaps even profitable football project.

"Zenit has a special meaning for the residents of St Petersburg and the region; the city and the word 'Zenit' have become synonymous with each other.

The letter also called for the club to reject "sexual minorities", "football crooks", those who have publicly announced their addiction to cigarettes or alchohol, as well as calling for the introduction of a wage cap.

It also suggested that players "blackmailing" the club in order to get a good financial package should be sold immediately.

Zenit issued a statement in which they distance themselves from the fans' letter, insisting the club do not support "archaic" values.

"Zenit has always been distinguished by its tolerant approach to players of various nationalities and confessions, and has always had diversity in its side," read the message sent to CNN World Sport.

"Furthermore, our club has millions of fans from all continents of the world. St. Petersburg is an open city which historically has united various cultures.

"Zenit invites players to the team exclusively thanks to their sporting qualities and achievements, not based on their nationality or skin colour.

"The club's policy is aimed at development and integration into the world football community. We do not support archaic values.

"We continue to be sure that fighting all manifestations of intolerance is the only principle for development of our club, football, and sports as a whole in the world."