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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Andre Villas-Boas defends Russia over racism: 'I've seen the same in England'

Russia's preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup are continuing to make progress, despite ongoing investigations into the bid process by Swiss authorities.

Andre Villas-Boas has defended Russia's right to host the 2018 World Cup despite recent incidents of racial prejudice and abuse, and alleged it's no different in England.

On Thursday, FIFA asked the Russian Football Union (RFU) to explain why it banned FC Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong for two matches for his reaction to racism from Spartak Moscow fans while not punishing the alleged abusers' club.

The Ghanaian made a gesture with his finger in response to racist taunts in Ufa's match on Friday,...

Hulk blasts Russia over racism in 'almost every game'

Yaya Toure has welcomed FIFA's new system of match observers to monitor incidents of racism and discrimination at FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the build-up to the 2018 tournament in Russia - and says some form of abuse can 'break' players.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Zenit St. Petersburg's star striker Hulk says he encounters racism in "almost every game" in Russia and the Brazil international fears it could tarnish the country when it hosts the 2018 World Cup.

Hulk, the most expensive signing in Russian Premier League history, has repeatedly faced monkey chants in Russia and also accused a referee of racially abusing him.

"If [racism] happens in the World Cup, it will be really gross and really ugly. Usually it happens when Russian...

 By PA Sport

Nicolas Lombaerts denies failing medical at Sunderland

Belgium defender Nicolas Lombaerts insists a failed medical was not behind the collapse of his proposed move to Sunderland.

The Zenit St Petersburg player is reported to have been on Wearside on Tuesday, and that the deal had been shelved because of an issue picked up by medics.

However, the 30-year-old is adamant that it was his decision to pull the plug on a £5 million transfer.

Lombaerts told "I've made the choice not to move to Sunderland. The story of the medical testing...

Andrey Arshavin exits Zenit after sealing move to Kuban Krasnodar

Andrey Arshavin has moved to Kuban after rarely breaking into Andre Villas-Boas' Zenit squad last season.

Andrey Arshavin joined Russian Premier League team Kuban Krasnodar on Monday after leaving Zenit St Petersburg.

The 34-year-old Arshavin won his third Russian title with Zenit last season but was a fringe player in Andre Villas-Boas' team and departed when his contract expired at the end of the campaign.

He joins a Kuban team which struggled last season with a below-expectations 10th-place finish in the league amid reported financial problems.

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Zenit St Petersburg's Andrey Arshavin silent amid retirement suggestions

Andre Villas-Boas had already said that Andrey Arshavin was likely to Zenit St Petersburg.

Zenit St Petersburg forward Andrey Arshavin has refused to comment on his future amid reports his playing career could be about to come to an end.

Arshavin joined Zenit from Arsenal on a two-year contract in the summer of 2013, but head coach Andre Villas-Boas said last month that the 34-year-old was unlikely to be offered a new deal.

Sport Express has now reported that he will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of this month, and it has been suggested that the former Russia international...