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Hulk, Russia and racism
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It was at London’s Wembley Stadium that the Brazilian national football team lost the Olympic final against Mexico last August. The only trophy in world football the Samba Boys have never won. Hulk scored in the last minute for Brazil. The player became an integral part of the team with a string of good performances in 2012. His move to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia has seen his form dip. The player spoke to euronews about the difficulties involved in adapting to Russian football. Zenit signed Hulk for 40 million euros from Porto, the second most expensive transfer of 2012, but to date the player has failed to justify the huge fee. Just four goals in 16 matches. What has happened to Hulk since his move to Russia? The player reveals all.

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“ At 26 what made you leave Porto for a club and a league that is less prestigious than the league in Portugal?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“I wanted new goals, new challenges so I had to leave for a new championship and country. At Porto I’d won everything. I had offers from England, Italy and Spain, the big leagues, but no deal was done, the only done deal was Zenit.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“Porto reached the deal with Zenit, what about you?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“Me and Porto, I won’t lie to you, I am a footballer and I have to seize the moment and for sure money played a part, but not only that. Zenit is growing and investing and I am sure in the next two or three years Zenit will be at the top in Europe.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“Hulk was a idol in Japan, an idol in Porto, but not in Russia. What’s happened?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“When I arrived in Russia, the season has already started. I missed all the pre-season and I had no opportunity to get to know the squad or for them to get to know me, they knew the player, not the person. Now the Russian season is on a winter break, so we had a new pre-season. It was very good and we know each other better and I hope from now on you will see the Hulk you know from Porto and Brazil, the Hulk of happy football.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“So the September move didn’t help?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“I think so, but on the other hand I think the turmoil of the transfer, the fee, the salary and the way the other players looked at me, as though I wanted to be the star of the team, but it was never my intention to be the star of the team. I want to help Zenit win trophies and I need help from my teammates and the club, we are now moving in the right direction.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“So at the beginning the relationship with the Russian players was not easy?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“That’s right, some players disrespected me, but I said nothing, to avoid more problems.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“What do you mean, who disrespected you? What happened exactly?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“Some players said incorrect things about me in the press and in public. I never speak about
another teammate.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“Are you talking about the Captain and the other players, like Kerzhakov, that they were against you because of your contract and salary?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“Yes, exactly. I can’t speak ill of others, on the contrary, I always want to be positive . The other day, in Russia, someone asked me about a Zenit player I liked and I said the captain Denisov, because he’s really a great player with a lot of qualities he is very important for us.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“The problem with Denisov and Kerzhakov was only a problem of money or some other prejudice against you?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“Honestly I don’t know. I never talked with them about it, I don’t know what they discussed with the clubs administration about me and I never read anything in the press about it. For me it is not important, we don’t need to be friends, we need to respect each other.on the pitch, everyone has a life of their own.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“During the match against Milan in the Champions League you were replaced before the end, you didn’t like it and you discussed it with the coach, Lucian Spaletti. After the match you mentioned you might leave Zenit in January, it didn’t happen, will you leave in the summer?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“I think I messed up. I was nervous and I said something I shouldn’t have. Nowadays I’m feeling better in Zenit, I have more confidence in the coach and teammates and I don’t think about that. I feel more motivated to play for Zenit and we will see this on the pitch.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“Did you lose motivation?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“No, I felt I couldn’t perform because my teammates had no confidence in me.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“A Zenit fan forum called “Landskrona” published a manifesto on its website on December 17 calling for a team without black or gay players. I quote “ We are not racists, but for us the lack of black players at Zenit is just an important tradition, underlining the identity of the club.” How do you feel playing for a club with supporters like that?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“We are there to play, regardless of colour: you can be black, white, blue or yellow,we are the same. We are all of flesh and blood and if you prick the skin we all bleed . So, that’s it. The differences don’t exist and this prejudice shouldn’t exist. I must say I don’t know these fans, I only know the fans who back the team for 90 minutes, they encourage me and shout my name, so I have a positive view of Zenit fans and I have no problems with them.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“So, you never have been victim of racism?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“No, never. If I said yes, I would be lying. All the people in Russia and in the club are good to me.”

Cláudia Garcia, euronews:
“In 2014, Brazil is going to host the World Cup, a very important event, but the country is riddled with problems crime, security and infrastructure. What do you
think will happen in Brazil?”

Hulk, Zenit St Petersburg:
“People only talk about criminality, violence, because they only want to see the negative side. But we should look for the positive side. If those problems didn’t exist in Brazil, Brazil would be perfect, and perfection does not exist. I believe that things will get better.”

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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