Two top-level Russian footballers have sparked outrage after a series of ‘gay’ holiday pictures have emerged. Pavel Mamayev, 24, a midfielder for CSKA Moscow, and Alexander Kokorin, 21, a striker from FC Dynamo Moscow, are believed to be in a relationship after ‘intimate’ photographs of them were posted on the internet.

On VK.ru, an Eastern-European social network similar to Facebook, Kokorin posted one of the pictures, saying ‘I love him’. Other snaps include the two hugging, sharing dinner, going to a basketball game, and having a bath together. As soon as the holiday snaps were uploaded on a popular sports blog, it caused a furore of discussion on internet forums. Neither of the players has commented on the holiday pictures, with only Kokorin continuing to upload photographs from their visit to the USA on Twitter.

The pictures come a week after a top fan club for St Petersburg’s football team Zenith said they do not want black, South American or gay players.  Publishing the manifesto on their website, they said: ‘We are not racists, but the absence of black or gay players in the Zenith lineup is an important tradition that underlines the identity of the club, and nothing more.’

Worldwide, the only two footballers to ever come out as gay and continue playing have been Anton Hysén  from Sweden and Justin Fashanu. Fashanu was the first, and only, English footballer to come out in 1990. Eight years later, he committed suicide.

Some other players like English super star David Beckham, Swedish Freddie Ljungberg and recently Matt Jarvis have expressed their support for gay players and fans by appearing on the cover of the gay Attitude magazine.