- © RIA Novosti. Alexey Danichev
© RIA Novosti. Alexey Danichev
MOSCOW, February 8 (R-Sport) - Brazil striker Hulk said Saturday he has never encountered any racist Zenit St. Petersburg fans, despite his club's supporters publishing a controversial manifesto many have dubbed racist.
Three months after Hulk's €40 million move to Zenit in September, the team's top fan club stated its opposition to any black or gay players at the club, citing Zenit's "traditions."
"I must say I don’t know these fans, I only know the fans who back the team for 90 minutes, they encourage me and shout my name, so I have a positive view of Zenit fans and I have no problems with them," Hulk, who is of mixed race, told the Euronews TV channel.
When asked if he had ever been a victim of racism, he said: “No, never. If I said yes, I would be lying. All the people in Russia and in the club are good to me.”
Zenit have long attracted criticism as the only top Russian side never to have fielded a black player, though reject allegations that it is policy.
Hulk moved from Porto at the same time as Zenit signed another mixed-race player, Benfica's Axel Witsel, also for €40 million.
Hulk has scored twice in nine league games and once in five Champions League fixtures during his time at Zenit, and has expressed frustration with being substituted frequently.
Zenit are third in the Russian league table, five points behind leaders CSKA Moscow with 11 games remaining.