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Happy 40th birthday to the Virazh! The Zenit Supporters Association

The official Zenit fan movement was formed on 21 September 1980. 

Happy 40th birthday to the Virazh! The Zenit Supporters Association
Around the time that the USSR held the summer Olympics of 1980, a number of Zenit fans started to organise themselves on the terraces of the Kirov Stadium, the same site where the Gazprom Arena now stands, and started the process of what would grow into the huge Virazh that we know today.

The Kirov had been under renovations for some time in order to be ready for the 1980 Olympics, so after an absence of some time Zenit returned to their home on 22 June 1980 to face Dynamo Minsk and again on 4 July to host Larpaty Lvov. Several dozen young supporters gathered on the terraces at the 33rd Sector of the giant stadium and their numbers quickly grew, with more and more fans spontaneously joining them in that part of the ground. 

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After the first game, the newly acquainted blue-white-sky blue fans shook hands and agreed to continue meeting at the 33rd Sector of the Kirov Stadium to cheer on their team together. The Olympics began two weeks later and the football competition took place across the USSR in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk. Leningrad's Kirov Stadium hosted matches involving Cuba, Zambia, Venezuela, Czechoslovakia, Colombia, Nigeria and Kuwait. This international festival of football and the supporters it brought with it created a new passion and gave many new ideas to the local fans. They soon started to imitate what they'd seen at the Olympic football and began bringing flags, drums and other symbols of fan culture to the stands with them.

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The next home matches after the Olympics were against Chernomorets Odessa (3-0) and Shakhtar Donetsk (1-1) and the 33rd Sector was packed for both games. The Zenit fans were now singing in unison and co-ordinating themselves in their support for the team, as well as arriving at the stadium on mass. It was at those games they decided to organise a group away trip to support their team as we took on Spartak Moscow in the Soviet capital. Posters were stuck up and leaflets handed round instructing fans to meet at Leningrad's Moskovski Vokzal train station on the 21st of September to travel to the match together... the Zenit Supporters Association, or the Virazh was born!

Happy birthday to the Zenit Virazh and thank you for your support over the years - Davai Zenit!