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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 4 April 2013

Di Canio defends himself as fascism furore continues

New Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio yesterday finally declared he does not support fascism after again coming in for criticism following his appointment on Wearside.

The former West Ham midfielder has come under fire for previous pro-fascist comments since being announced as Martin O’Neill’s successor, leading to David Miliband stepping down as a director in protest.

“I have stated I do not wish to speak about matters other than football,” Di Canio said in a statement. “I have been deeply hurt by attacks on the club. I am an honest man. I am not the man some people like to portray. I am not political, I do not affiliate myself to any organisation, I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism. I respect everyone.”

The Dean of Durham, the very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, also added his voice to proceedings, claiming he found Di Canio’s “self-confessed fascism deeply troubling”.

“Your appointment raises difficult questions,” the Dean said in an open letter. “I am the child of a Jewish war refugee. Fascism was nearly the undoing of the world. Mussolini, who you say has been deeply misunderstood, openly colluded with it. You say you are not racist, but it needs sophistication to understand how fascism and racism are different.” MORE

Real put one foot in the semi-finals

Real Madrid eased to a 3-0 victory over Galatasaray in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals at the Bernabeu last night. Cristiano Ronaldo finished cooly inside the first 10 minutes before Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, after the break, secured the win. MORE

Wasteful Dortmund held by Malaga

Borussia Dortmund wasted a host of opportunities as they were held to a goalless draw in Malaga in last night’s other last-eight tie. Willy Caballero impressed in the hosts’ goal as Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski misfired up front for the Germans. MORE

Beckham relishing Nou Camp return

David Beckham is looking forward to his return to the Nou Camp when PSG visit Barcelona in next week’s Champions League last eight tie. “It’s always good,” he said of the atmosphere. “It’s even better when you win. It’s never easy there but it’s going to be a nice game to play.” MORE

Parker desperate for silverware

Spurs midfielder Scott Parker admits a Europa League winner’s medal would give him  satisfaction at ending a long wait for a winner’s medal. “It’s something I’d love to do,” the England player said. “At the end of my career, to look back and say: ‘This is what I did’.” MORE

British pair out to make history

Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter aim to add their names to a short list when they take part in the Texas Open ahead of next week’s Masters. Only two players have won the week before the Masters before also taking the Slam event.

Lack of depth gives Australia concern

John Inverarity, Australia’s chair of selectors, has admitted to being worried over his country’s lack of batting talent before the Ashes. “There is a concern,” he said. “We do not have the depth we enjoyed seven or eight and 15 years ago.” MORE

Unlucky Heather to take a break

Heather Watson is to take a break from the game after contracting glandular fever. The British No 1 has returned to Guernsey after being told to rest by doctors. “I am relieved to know what is wrong,” she said. “So I can get myself on the mend.” MORE

O’Shea rules out Ireland job talk

Harlequins director Conor O’Shea has insisted he has no intention of quitting to take over the Ireland vacancy. “All the talk is flattering,” the 42-year-old said. “Ireland is my country. But I’m going nowhere. My contract is with Harlequins.” MORE

Jonjo expectant before National

Jonjo O’Neill has high hopes for his two Grand National entrants. “He’s in grand form,” he said of Sunnyhillboy, adding: “Lost Glory is fresh and well. The only reason he hasn’t been out is the ground. He’s no outsider.” MORE

James Lawton

The Sunderland furore invites the wider question: what is a football club for? Is it to reflect the values of the community? Or is it no more than an opportunity for foreign investment? MORE

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