Sunderland's Di Canio says 'basta' to Fascist' flap
- Insubria Italocentric WWP Member (insubria87@...) Sunderland's Di Canio says 'basta' to Fascist' flap
New manager sees Black Cats' salvation
02 April, 18:50
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(By Denis Greenan).
(ANSA) - London, April 2 - New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has said 'basta' to a flap over his alleged extreme-right political views, stressing he wants to focus on digging his new team out of the mire at the foot of the Premier League.
The ex-Lazio striker and formerly self-tagged Fascist, who was named head coach of the Black Cats Saturday, told the press on Tuesday that would not discuss his politics.
Controversy erupted when Di Canio replaced Martin O'Neill, causing former British foreign secretary David Miliband to step down as deputy chairman of the club.
When asked about his current politics on Tuesday, Di Canio responded, "I don't have to answer this question any more".
"I don't want to talk about politics. I'm not in the Houses of Parliament, I'm not a political person, I will only talk about football," Di Canio said.
"I don't have to answer these questions any more...I have the utmost respect for other people's opinions, but I'm not interested in what the papers say. I'm not arrogant, but I know my trade and and I know who I am. In the past I said a lot of things but certain people took my words out of context. My life speaks for itself...it's a ridiculous and pathetic situation".
Sunderland rallied behind the new coach Tuesday, calling the "mud-raking" about his past "insulting" to his recent record, but the Durham Miners' Association, stalwart fans of the northeastern club, asked for a banner dedicated to miners to be taken down from the Stadium of Light.
Di Canio reiterated his only thoughts were on the next match, against mighty Chelsea, and the six others that stand in the way of Sunderland's retention of its top-tier status.
"I'm ready to bet anything that I can save this club," he said.
The former West Ham striker has openly admitted in the past to having Fascist leanings.
He told ANSA in 2005 that he was "a Fascist, not a racist".
Di Canio was fined by the international football federation FIFA twice in 2005 for giving the straight-arm salute used by Fascists.
The 44-year-old retired striker first went to Britain as a player in 1996 joining Celtic, then played for Glasgow, West Ham and Charlton.
As a player, Di Canio's rebellious spirit often caused him problems with coaches and officials. In 1999 he was banned for 11 matches and fined £100,000 for pushing over a referee.
But two years later British fans saw a very different side to Di Canio's character, when he opted to catch the ball rather than shoot during a league match for West Ham, because the opposition goalkeeper was on the ground injured.
The gesture won him the 2001 FIFA Fair Play award.