Page last updated at 20:27 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 21:27 UK

Racism warning for Zenit support

Zenit St Petersburg fans
Fans travelling to Manchester have been issued the warning

Zenit St Petersburg fans have been warned they could face prison if found guilty of racist abuse towards Rangers' black players in the Uefa Cup final.

The Russian club has already been charged by Uefa after Marseille players complained of racial abuse.

The club travels to Manchester to take on Rangers in the final on Wednesday.

UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said a zero-tolerance approach would mean any abuse would be met with the full force of the law.

Under the Football (Offences) Act 1991, racist chanting is a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe says racism will not be tolerated

Mr Sutcliffe said: "I know Zenit St Petersburg fans have been accused of racially abusing black players at the Marseille game and obviously there are fears in some quarters that the same could happen on Wednesday.

"I've raised this issue with Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, and my message to Zenit fans is simple: come here to enjoy the game and you'll be welcomed with open arms.

"Come here and racially abuse black players and you will feel the full force of the law.

"Our success in tackling racism is based on a zero-tolerance approach and Zenit fans will have to abide by our tough rules."

Zenit say they and their players have taken part in several anti-racist programmes and have expressed their opposition to "all manifestations of racism".


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