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Female fans of Russia’s FC Zenit are no longer able to freely buy season tickets to watch the team’s games from the fan sector of its home stadium, reports Natalia Antonova at GlobalComment.

I couldn’t find any English language news coverage of this, but Antonova explains:

I was therefore particularly dismayed to read that the council of fans of FC Zenit St. Petersburg – the richest club in the Russian Federation and the original stomping ground of star footballer Andrei Arshavin – has decided that season tickets for the coveted fan sector in their home stadium of Petrovsky will not be sold to women (or, as one choice news source put it, “broads”).

Gorod 812, a journal based in St. Petersburg quoted Ruslan Dryuma, an FC Zenit representative, as confirming that “young women were excluded, but not all of them… We have made the decision that we are not discussing this subject with the press.”

It seems that the fans’ council believes women are not ‘proper fans’. It’s pretty unclear what the actual policy is – a blanket ban, or if they are selling the season tickets to some women not others, how they are deciding which women are ‘allowed’ to buy tickets.

Ananova says:

I was unable to get anyone to speak to me on the phone, and e-mail messages have gone unreturned so far. Perhaps club officials are counting on this issue to fade away.

In the meantime, I was able to get in touch with a couple of female Zenit fans who wished to remain anonymous. One woman spoke to me about obtaining tickets to the fan sector through friends, and her fear of these friends getting into trouble because of her. Both women said that it was their desire that only the most devoted fans have access to the sector.

Both also related instances in which men in the fan sector behaved as though they were not fans at all – and wondered why it is that people like that get a free pass, while women are very closely scrutinized, and found wanting.