MOSCOW (AP) — Zenit St. Petersburg's Brazilian striker Hulk claimed he was racially abused during a match against Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League.
When Hulk was substituted after scoring in the 2-2 draw, he blew kisses to the stands and later said this was because "unfortunately the same situation keeps happening, racism from the stands," in comments published Sunday on Zenit's website.
Last season, Spartak and Torpedo Moscow were punished over separate incidents involving their fans, who directed monkey chants at Hulk. The Brazilian has made blowing kisses his signature response to such incidents.
"I'm not going to react. I've already talked about that," he said Sunday. "That's why I keep sending everyone kisses and answering with my game on the pitch. It's not worth it to discuss these things."
The head of the Russian Football Union's disciplinary committee, Artur Grigoryants, told Russian agency Tass that racist abuse had not been mentioned in the match delegate's official report.
Hulk said in July that racist behavior was present at "almost every game" in Russia, where he has played since 2012, and that he feared it could mar the 2018 World Cup. Hulk has played 43 times for Brazil and remains the Russian league's record signing after Zenit paid at least 40 million euros ($45 million) for him from Porto three years ago.
After the Torpedo incident, Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas branded the abuse of Hulk a "disaster" for Russian football, adding: "The insults, the racist insults to Hulk, they go around the world, and this is the image of the Russian Premier League."
In December, Hulk alleged he was racially abused by Russian referee Alexei Matyunin during a league game. The referee was cleared by a Russian Football Union panel, which ruled there was insufficient evidence.
In the first game of the new Russian league season in July, Ghanaian player Emmanuel Frimpong, formerly of Arsenal, said he was racially abused by the crowd while playing for FC Ufa against Spartak.
Frimpong was sent off for an offensive gesture to Spartak fans and banned for two games.
Frimpong said on Twitter: "I'm going to serve a sentence for being abused ... and yet we (are) going to hold a World Cup in this country."
A report published in February by the anti-discrimination group FARE found more than 200 incidents of racist and discriminatory behavior linked to Russian football over two seasons. The Russian government disputes the figures.