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 head 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."
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