Sunderland under attack as Di Canio faces racism storm
The controversy surrounding the appointment of Paolo di Canio as Sunderland head coach exploded yesterday when he was forced to deny claims he is a racist. The club's board were also so angered by the reaction to the hiring of Di Canio as their replacement to Martin O'Neill that they too defended the 44-year-old.
Di Canio, above, made a fascist salute when he played for Lazio and it has been widely reported that he used the term "I am fascist, not a racist," in an interview.
Sunderland's non-executive director David Miliband resigned from his position in light of the appointment and Piara Powar, a director at Football Against Racism in Europe, called it a "worrying time". Powar said: "There is no place in a sport, which seeks to draw out a positive impact on social relations and community, to have someone who says: 'I am a fascist and I admire Mussolini.'"
Di Canio, in a statement, denied that he is racist or fascist. "I've never had a problem with people from a different culture," he said. "[The 'fascist' quote] was twisted. They did not use all of the interview." MORE
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Although we know how much political posturing masquerades as bone-deep conviction, it is still no hardship applauding David Miliband's resignation as vice-chairman of Sunderland. page 51
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