Sunderland boss Di Canio issues statement denying fascist claims

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has issued a statement in which he firmly rejects claims he is a fascist, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

There was widespread condemnation of the decision to hire the Italian as the replacement for Martin O’Neill, who was sacked last weekend. Di Canio has in the past declared himself to be a fascist and was more than once pictured giving a fascist salute to Lazio supporters during his time playing for the Rome club.

Di Canio’s appointment led to the resignation of former Foreign Secretary and Labour MP David Milliband from his place on the Sunderland board, and saw the Durham Miners’ Association ask for the return of a banner of theirs that permanently hangs in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

The statement read: “I have clearly stated that I do not wish to speak about matters other than football, however, I have been deeply hurt by the attacks on the football club.

This is a historic, proud and ethical club and to read and hear some of the vicious and personal accusations is painful. I am an honest man, my values and principles come from my family and my upbringing.

I feel that I should not have to continually justify myself to people who do not understand this, however I will say one thing – I am not the man that 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. I am a football man and this and my family are my focus. Now I will speak only of football.

The Dean of Durham, a Sunderland supporter, who was among those who called on Di Canio to explain his position and wrote an open letter to that end, welcomed Di Canio’s statement and accepted the answers the former Swindon manager provided.

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