- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Danichev
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Danichev
MOSCOW, March 30 (R-Sport) - Zenit St. Petersburg fans who support a controversial manifesto calling for a ban on black and gay players “do not think,” the Russian champions’ striker Hulk has said.
Three months after Hulk's €40 million move to Zenit in September, a leading fan club claimed black and gay people were contrary to club “traditions,” but Hulk argued in a recent interview with R-Sport that the document’s supporters are culturally ignorant.
“I think that these people, these fans, do not think about culture,” said Hulk, who is of mixed race.
“I respect fans of any skin color and any sexual orientation. The people who are talking about dark-skinned people and gays are just not thinking.”
Last month, Hulk said he has never been the victim of racism while at Zenit.
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. Former manager Dick Advocaat has said fan pressure prevented him signing black players during his time at the club from 2006 to 2009.
Hulk moved from Porto at the same time as Zenit signed another mixed-race player, Benfica's Axel Witsel, also for €40 million. The Brazil striker has since scored six goals in 20 games.
In August, there were reports that French midfielder Yann M'Vila, now at Russian side Rubin Kazan, had refused a move to Zenit after receiving racist threats.
Zenit are third in the Russian league table, eight points behind leaders CSKA Moscow with nine games remaining.