Liverpool will walk off if players are racially abused at Zenit

Liverpool have said they will consider leaving the pitch if their players are subject to racial abuse from supporters of Zenit St Petersburg in their Europa League fixture on Thursday, the Daily Mirror has reported.

The Premier League club have written to UEFA to make clear their expectation that the game’s Spanish official, Carlos Velasco Carballo, takes action should offensive language come from the stands.

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre said: “Liverpool are not in a position to take unilateral action over these matters, which is why we have written to UEFA to point out the need for them to lead should any situation arise.

Under extreme circumstances, yes, we would expect the referee to make the decision (to take players off the pitch). We would hope and expect that UEFA have made clear what action is required.

Zenit have faced sanction for the racist behaviour of their fans in the past and a group of supporters recently issued an open letter to the club that called for only white, heterosexual players to make up the Zenit squad. The Mirror adds that a recent match saw bananas thrown at former Brazil international Roberto Carlos, now part of the Anzhi Makhachkala backroom team.

Liverpool have a number of black players who are in contention to feature in the match, and manager Brendan Rodgers has said he will not alter his team selection based on fears that those players could be targeted by the crowd.

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