Zenit striker Hulk will not feature in the preliminary draw for the World Cup in Russia, with FIFA citing the player’s club commitments for his absence.
The Brazil international was set to join the likes of Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and Samuel Eto’o for the draw in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.
However, former Russia international Alexey Smertin will replace Hulk, who is due to feature for Andre Villas-Boas’ side against Ural on Sunday.
The decision has raised eyebrows however, given that Hulk spoke out earlier this week against racism – an issue that has blighted Russia’s preparations for the competition.
“It [racism] happens at almost every match in Russia but the world does not hear about it because they try to keep it quiet,” he told reporters on Monday.
Ufa midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was given a two-match ban last week for gesturing towards Spartak Moscow fans he claimed were abusing him.
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