Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will specifically advise his players on handling racist abuse in the Petrovsky Stadium on Thursday evening against Zenit St Petersburg, but he expects the authorities to deal with any problems.
In December a group of the Russian club’s fans published a manifesto calling for sexual minorities and non-Europeans to be kept out of the St Petersburg club.
Included in the Zenit fans’ statement was the comment: “The absence of black-skinned players in Zenit’s team is just an important tradition that underlines the identity of the club - and nothing more.”
Two months ago QPR and former Anzhi Makhachkala defender Chris Samba labelled the Zenit fans racist and said they “are living in another century”.
Liverpool, who have already written to Zenit and UEFA about the potential problem, have travelled with three black players - England international Glen Johnson and teenagers Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling - in the squad.
And although Rodgers will address the issue in team meetings he expects UEFA, police and the club to take care of matters in the Europa League last-32 first leg tie.
“I haven’t spoken to any of the players at the moment but we still have a few meetings to go,” said the Reds boss.
“I will make reference to it because we have players it maybe could affect but we are here for football.
“We are very hopeful there will be a terrific game and anything that goes on outside the field will be taken care of.”
After exiting the FA Cup last month, and falling further off the pace in the Premier League with Monday’s home defeat to West Brom, Rodgers admits the Europa League has added significance.
“It is a competition we want to do well in as it is the last cup competition we are involved in,” he said. “We want to progress in the tournament. The only focus is for tomorrow.”