Zenit reject racism claims
© AFP

Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg on Friday denied that racist slogans were directed at players from visiting French side Marseille by local fans during their UEFA Cup match midweek.

European football governing body UEFA have launched an inquiry after Marseille defender Ronald Zubar complained of racist chants directed against him and black teammates Charles Kabore and Andre Ayew.

"Zenit unites football players of different nationalities and religions," the club said in a statement.

"Our club has millions of supporters in different countries. The club and its players repeatedly took part in the anti-racist programmes permanently expressing their negative attitude to any outbreaks of racism."

The statement also said that a special anti-racist banner was placed at the stands of Saint Petersburg's Petrovsky stadium by Zenit fans during Wednesday's match with Marseille.

"The club can only express its bewilderment concerning the accusations of racist propaganda made by Zenit fans that appeared after Marseille left Saint Petersburg," the statement added.

"It's even more surprising as no remarks about it were made either before the match or at the post-match news conference."

However, the club promised to investigate the case.

Zenit won 2-0 to go through into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.