‘In 2008 Zenit Saint Petersburg became only the second Russian club to win a major European trophy when they beat Glasgow Rangers in Manchester to win the UEFA Cup – a triumph that propelled Zenit on to the international stage. However, such success would not have been possible without the financial backing of Gazprom, who had chosen football as the centrepiece of its global image campaign.
The final in Manchester was the peak of a process, which began in 1999 when Gazprom became the official sponsor of Zenit. Gazprom’s sponsorship deal was signed shortly after Zenit had lifted the Russian Cup, beating Lokomotiv Moscow 3-1 thanks largely to two goals from Alexander Panov, known as the “Kolpino rocket”. At the time of the takeover, Gazprom’s chairman Petr Radionov stated in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiia “that in difficult economic times it is important that people have an outlet”. In a somewhat philosophical tone, Radionov was referring to the fact that Russia was recovering from the 1998 economic crisis with Saint Petersburg hit especially hard by the default of Russia’s banking sector.’
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