Sunderland have defended their appointment of Paulo Di Canio as Martin O’Neill’s replacement after criticism regarding the Italian’s alleged political views, the BBC
Di Canio is said in the past to have made statements declaring himself to be a fascist, was pictured giving the fascist salute more than once while a Lazio player and has a tattoo on his arm reading “Dux”, a version of Il Duce, a moniker associated with the former fascist leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini. Di Canio however claimed he has been misquoted on the issue in the past.
A Sunderland statement read: “To accuse him now, as some have done, of being a racist or having fascist sympathies is insulting not only to him but to the integrity of this football club.
“Anyone who has met Paolo and spoken with him personally, as we did in depth before making this appointment, will know that he is an honest man, a man of principle and a driven, determined and passionate individual.
“It is disappointing that some people are trying to turn the appointment of a head coach into a political circus.”
Former Labour MP David Milliband resigned from his place on the Sunderland board shortly after Di Canio’s appointment and the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) have asked for the return of the Wearmouth Miners’ Banner, which is on permanent display in the Stadium of Light.
Di Canio added: “I expressed an opinion in an interview many years ago. Some pieces were taken for media convenience. They took my expression in a very, very negative way. But it was a long conversation and a long interview. It was not fair.”
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