Anti-racism campaigners warn Di Canio

LONDON – New Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio has been warned by anti-racism campaigners that he must distance himself from extremist political beliefs.
Di Canio makes fascist salute while playing for Lazio. Net photo.
Di Canio makes fascist salute while playing for Lazio. Net photo.

LONDON – New Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio has been warned by anti-racism campaigners that he must distance himself from extremist political beliefs.

Di Canio was due to take his first training session with Sunderland’s players on Monday following his surprise appointment as replacement for sacked Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill 24 hours earlier.

But the Italian’s arrival at the Stadium of Light has already stirred controversy due to his far right-wing politics.

The former Lazio, Celtic and West Ham striker has previously admitted to having fascist leanings and in 2005 said: “I am a fascist, not a racist”. Former British foreign secretary David Miliband immediately resigned as Sunderland’s vice-chairman and non-executive director in protest at Di Canio’s stance.

Piara Powar, director of Football Against Racism in Europe, is concerned the appointment of Di Canio could have dangerous repercussions if his political beliefs are not immediately challenged.

“When there is a rise of intolerance and there is a coach in the Premier League, which is the most watched league globally, who hasn’t clarified or wanted to renounce his fascist views during his time in the UK, it is a worrying time,” Powar said on Monday.

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