ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Brazilian striker Hulk has been withdrawn from his role in this weekend’s 2018 World Cup draw, four days after saying racism is commonplace in host nation Russia.
FIFA said Hulk had been replaced due to "club commitments" with Zenit St. Petersburg, which visits Ural Yekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League on Sunday, a day after Saturday’s draw ceremony.
The match has been on the schedule since at least June 30, long before Hulk was announced as a participant in the World Cup draw.
Hulk will be replaced at the draw by former Russia midfielder Alexei Smertin.
Hulk, who joined Zenit from Porto three years ago, said on Monday that racism was present at "almost every game" in Russia and fears it could mar the World Cup.