A group of Zenit St Petersburg fans opted to protest the club’s signing of winger Malcom from Barcelona, holding up a hugely controversial banner in which they appear to criticise the club for signing a black player.
Having sealed a £36m move to the club, Malcom made his Zenit debut in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Krasnodar, but the occasion was marred by abuse from a section of supporters.
Sports.ru captured the image of the banner which was held up during the game, which sarcastically read: “Thank you leadership for your loyalty to traditions”.
The ‘tradition’ in question is believed to be the absence of black players at the club. The Landskrona supporters group have previously posted a manifesto online in which they call for the club not to sign any black players.
The manifesto reads: “We are not racist and for us the absence of black players is just an important tradition, emphasising the identity of the club and nothing more.
“We, as the northernmost club of the major European cities, have never been mentally connected with Africa, however, as with South America or Australia or Oceania. We have absolutely nothing against the inhabitants of these and any other continents, but at the same time we want players who are close in spirit to speak for Zenit.
“Now, Zenit black football players are being forced almost by force, and this causes only a backlash. Let us be what we are.”
Malcom was not the only black player to feature during the match, with right-back Douglas Santos and Wilmar Barrios starting the game as well.