A fan club of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg has published a manifesto that attempts to justify a policy of discriminating against black and gay players.

The Moscow News reports in a document named Selection 12, the group said:

“We are not racists, but the absence of black players in the Zenit lineup is an important tradition that underlines the identity of the club, and nothing more.”

On the issue of fielding gay players, it said: “We are against the inclusion of representatives of sexual minorities in the Zenit team.”

The document claims African players have trouble adapting to Russia’s wintery climate.

“A big part of the championship is played in pretty tough weather.

“In these conditions it is sometimes difficult for the technical players from warm countries to display their footballing talents to the full degree.”

It added: “We want players closer to our soul and mentality to play for Zenit.”

FC Zenit, described by one Russian footballer as one of the most racist football clubs in Russia, is based in the same city that passed a notorious anti-gay censorship law earlier this year.

Last week, Lady Gaga became the latest US pop star to clash with the law after she was accused of speaking out in favour of LGBT rights at a concert in St Petersburg.

Meanwhile, the club has sought to distance itself from Section 12, and said in a statement:

“Players get into our team not by nationalities and skin color but sporting qualities and achievements…

“Club policy is aimed at development and integration into the society of world football and does not uphold archaic views.”