Featured Matches
Previous
Manchester United
Internazionale
(3) 0
(5) 0
FT
Game Details
Real Madrid
AS Roma
0
1
FT
Game Details
Recreativo Huelva
Sunderland
0
1
FT
Game Details
Sparta Prague
Malmo FF
4
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Aktobe Lento
Steaua Bucuresti
3:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
FK Qarabag
SV Salzburg
3:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
AEL
Zenit St Petersburg
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
FC Copenhagen
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
HJK Helsinki
Apoel Nicosia
4:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Grasshoppers
Lille
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Feyenoord Rotterdam
Besiktas
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Partizan Belgrade
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Panathinaikos
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
AaB
Dinamo Zagreb
6:15 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Maccabi Tel-Aviv
6:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Legia Warsaw
Celtic
6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Vitesse Arnhem
Chelsea
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chesterfield
Aston Villa
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Hartlepool United
Middlesbrough
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Walsall
Leicester City
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
York City
Nottingham Forest
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Brentford
Espanyol
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bury
Blackburn Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Chester City
Tranmere Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Peterborough United
Charlton Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Yeovil Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bolton Wanderers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sheffield Wednesday
Newcastle United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Southend United
Queens Park Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
St Neots Town
Luton XI
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
DC United
Toronto FC
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England
Colorado
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chicago
Vancouver Whitecaps
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
New York Red Bulls
ESPN2 1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Bolívar
San Lorenzo
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 5
Game Details
At. San Luis
Santos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mérida
Toluca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Necaxa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Veracruz
Oaxaca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Dorados de Sinaloa
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Celaya
Puebla
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Atlante
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Novo Hamburgo
ABC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
CR Vasco da Gama
AA Ponte Preta
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Bragantino
São Paulo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Internacional
Ceará
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Liverpool
Manchester City
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Los Caimanes
César Vallejo
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
UTC
Juan Aurich
8:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Universitario de Deportes
Real Garcilaso
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
U. Católica
Mushuc Runa
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Emelec
Deportivo Quito
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Olmedo
El Nacional
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
LDU Quito
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Barcelona
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Antigua
Municipal
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Washington Spirit
FC Kansas City
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Houston Dash
Seattle Reign FC
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next
Dec 17, 2012

Zenit rebuffs fans' demands

MOSCOW -- Fans of two-time defending Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg are calling for non-white and gay players to be excluded from the team.

Landscrona, the largest Zenit fan club, released a manifesto Monday demanding the club field an all-white, heterosexual team. It added that "dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit's throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction" and said gay players were "unworthy of our great city."

The club quickly sought to distance itself from the fans. Without directly referring to their manifesto, Zenit's coach, Luciano Spalletti, said in remarks posted on the club's website that "tolerance for me is most of all the ability to understand and accept differences."

"Furthermore, being tolerant means that you fight against any kind of stupidity," he added.

The club, which is owned by state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, also told the R-Sport news agency it picked players on athletic ability alone, insisting that "the team's policy is aimed at development and integration into the world soccer community, and holds no archaic views."

Zenit were the only topflight Russian team never to have signed a minority until this summer, when they acquired Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel for 80 million euros ($105 million). French midfielder Yann M'Vila declined a move to the club in August after receiving death threats.

"I can personally assure you that I will do everything I can to help those who seek to explain to people what tolerance is, and the need to respect other cultures and traditions," Spalletti said. "I think that Zenit has proven through its work that the club understands what tolerance is, and what it means to have tolerant behavior. The team has gathered players from different countries and ethnic groups who work together to achieve a common goal, and work well."

The fan club insisted that "we are not racists and for us the absence of black Zenit players is just an important tradition that underlines the team's identity and nothing more."

Russia has struggled to deal with racism and violence at its stadiums as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2018. Black players are frequently the targets of monkey chants, and some, including Anzhi Makhachkala's Robert Carlos and Christopher Samba, have had bananas thrown at them by fans.

Officials have at times shown little enthusiasm for targeting racism. When Lokomotiv Moscow fans held up a banner in 2010 thanking an English team for signing their black striker Peter Odemwingie with a picture of a banana, the head of Russia's World Cup bid awkwardly claimed they were referencing a quaint, little-used Russian expression meaning "to fail an exam."

Zenit's fans have long been the country's most problematic. Dick Advocaat, the team's former Dutch manager, once admitted that "the fans don't like black players" and that it would be "impossible" for Zenit to sign one.

Several black players have also singled out Zenit's fans as particularly racist. Former Russian top scorer Vagner Love told a Brazilian newspaper in April that Zenit is "the most racist team in Russia" and the only one whose fans had abused him in his seven years playing for CSKA Moscow.

Five years earlier, Krylya Sovetov Samara's former Cameroon international Serge Branco told a local newspaper that Zenit's management were "the real racists" for not combatting the problem, adding that "in a civilized country they'd smack them down to the third division for their fans' behavior."

Zenit's fans have also come under the spotlight recently after one of them threw a firecracker that injured Dinamo Moscow's goalkeeper during a match in November. Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, himself a Zenit fan, called for violent spectators to be banned for life from attending matches. Parliament has drafted a bill that would ban hooligans for a year.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.