Support for Zenit case grows
Zenit St Petersburg continue to find support from the football community following bribery allegations.
By James Appell
Last Updated: 06/10/08 1:54pm
Football writers, coaches and players continue to react angrily over accusations that Zenit St Petersburg bribed Bayern Munich to throw their Uefa Cup semi-final last season.
Spanish newspaper ABC revealed details of the allegations last week, where it was suggested that two members of the Russian criminal underworld had bragged in a telephone call about fixing the second leg of the last four contest, which Zenit won 4-0.
On Wednesday Zenit issued a statement flatly denying the allegations, and Bayern have also dismissed the reports. But the story continues to attract attention in Spain, and the Guardia Civil are to open an investigation into the case.
Uefa are also expected to intervene. Director of Communications William Gaillard, speaking to Russian sports daily Sovetsky Sport, said that he would wait until the Spanish prosecutor shared the evidence with Uefa before any action would be taken.
"We will of course carry out our own investigations but only once we receive all the information," Gaillard said.
The Spanish prosecutor has thus far been unavailable for comment.
Now members of the footballing community have come out fighting. On Wednesday Zenit coach Dick Advocaat told the Daily Record the allegations were 'incredible'.
Sovetsky Sport have reported that Konstantin Sarsanin, an advisor to the Zenit club President Alexander Dyukov, has denied any links to the Russian mafia.
"I can only agree with Dick Advocaat," Sarsanin stated. "Clubs of the level of Bayern cannot be bribed. I would regard all of this talk as political."
And Bayern striker Miroslav Klose, speaking to Sovetsky Sport, suggested the whole story was farcical.
"I was never offered any money and anyway I wouldn't fancy getting involved," he stated.
And asked why he missed a chance in the opening minutes of the semi-final second leg, Klose joked: "I hit the ball especially badly because all I could see were dollar signs."
Meanwhile, the Russian Premier Liga (RFPL) have also offered their support to Zenit's fight to clear their name.
A statement released by the RFPL said: "In light of recent press reports of a possible investigation into the circumstances surrounding Zenit St Petersburg winning the Uefa Cup, on behalf of its member (the clubs) the RFPL declares its full support to Zenit.
"The RFPL fully recognises Zenit's achievements and is certain that victory in the prestigious European tournament was obtained in an honest and fair contest."