Discover the history of Zenit, Putin’s football team

A fan of martial arts and a black belt in judo, Russian President Vladimir Putin is also a die-hard Zenit supporter. Unlike Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, who has never revealed his favorite team, the Russian is keen to show his passion for Zenit Saint Petersburg, which was founded 96 years ago, in his hometown.

The team is led by coach Sergei Simak, a former Ukrainian player who obtained Russian citizenship and is competing with Spartak from Moscow. In uniform, he wears blue and white.

Since 2008, when it won the European Super Cup and the European Cup, the second most important tournament in Europe, Zenit has seen its fans grow and become the biggest in the country.

With fame came the most important players, such as Brazilian Claudinho, a newcomer to Zenit after he was the top scorer in the Brasileirao 2020. He was contracted for 15 million euros (about 92 million Brazilian riyals) to play alongside his compatriots Malcom and Yuri Alberto.

As soon as he arrived, he was already elected the best player of the Russian championship. In addition to scoring seven times in the league, the 25-year-old attacking midfielder earned the most beautiful goal.

Claudinho holds a dog before leaving Zenit

Photo: Advertising / Zenit

Mighty Club

The team has 18 national titles, which it won after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), but its strength comes from the money poured in by one of the largest state-owned enterprises in Russia. Gazprom, the world’s largest gas exporter, acquired the club at the end of 2005 for 112 million Brazilian reals.

In 2007, months before the victorious campaign to win the European Cup, the Russian giant invested nearly R$160 million in reinforcements and allocated over R$400 million to build the club’s new stadium.

The Gazprom Arena, or Saint Petersburg stadium, opened in 2017. Had it not been for the sanctions imposed on the Russian government in response to the invasion of Ukraine, the stadium would have hosted the Champions League final on May 28. In February, UEFA and FIFA announced that all Russian teams would be banned from participating in their competitions.

While the Ukrainian sports calendar has been suspended amid the onslaught of Putin’s army, Zenit has performed normally in the Russian Championship and is a favorite in the European Championship.

racist reputation

Zenit is also famous for maintaining a racist slogan: “There is no black in Zenit colours.”

Biased lines also came from the mouth of the most famous fan. Putin criticized the hiring of foreigners, saying: “Looking at our teams, it’s hard to say if our teams are really African or African.”

Secretly, the managers have already admitted to avoiding hiring black players so as not to run into problems with the fans.

In May 2008 Zenit fans imitated monkeys and threw bananas at black defender Zubar during a match against Olympique in the UEFA Cup in St Petersburg. The club was fined 36,880 euros but was not expelled from the competition.

In March 2011, Anzhi captain Roberto Carlos was seen by a fan showing him a banana in the match against Zenit during the Russian Championship. The fine this time was about $10,600. Even with the punishment, the side was once again subjected to insults on a second occasion.

Striker Hulk, a star of Zenit in 2012 and 2016, stated that he was a victim of racism almost daily when playing for the club.

08.26.2014 - Hulk drives the ball in Zenit's win over Standard Liege - OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP - OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

Brazilian Hulk, in blue, defended Zenit between 2012 and 2016

Photo: OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

Putin and the team’s disagreements

As the Russian president gave his intuition when sock Igor Denisov Opening an internal crisis by complaining about the annual salary of Hulk in climax. you The 6.5 million euros (17 million Brazilian reals) the Brazilian received was almost double her income Denisov.

At the time, Putin advocated the super pay.

He said in an interview with Russian TV.

Most recently, Zenit sacked Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitsky, 32, for condemning the war started by the Russian president. The athlete has been with the team since 2019 and posted a photo of the Ukrainian flag on social media, calling for peace and an end to the invasion.

Ukrainian Yaroslav Rakitsky terminates his contract with Zenit - Marco Albuzi / La Presse / Diasportivo / Vulhabres - Marco Albuszi / La Presse / Diasportivo / Vulhabres

Ukrainian Yaroslav Rakitsky has terminated his contract with Zenit

Photo: Marco Albuzi/La Presse/Diasportivo/Volhares

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