UEFA sanctions Zenit in Russia racism case before World Cup

NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA has ordered Zenit St. Petersburg to play its next European game behind closed doors in another racism sanction for World Cup host nation Russia.

Zenit fans jeered injured Leipzig player Naby Keita, who is from the nation of Guinea, during a Europa League game in March at the same St. Petersburg stadium that will host World Cup matches.

As well as ordering Zenit to play its Europa League qualifier in July without fans, the club was fined 50,000 euros ($58,400) for its fans’ racist behavior, and another 20,000 euros ($23,400) for fans throwing objects and blocking staircases.

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FIFA also fined Russia after fans racially abused France players with monkey chants during a game in St. Petersburg in March.

Zenit was previously fined over a banner honoring the convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic at a Europa League game in November.

Another Russian club, Spartak Moscow, was fined after its supporters abused a black Liverpool youth player.

Racist chants became more common in Russian soccer this season even as the overall number of racism incidents decreased, according to a study published last week by the anti-discrimination Fare Network and Moscow-based SOVA Center.

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