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The Toe Poke

Di Canio: I am not a fascist

Three days after his controversial appointment as head coach of Sunderland, Paolo Di Canio has sought to clarify his position.

Paolo Di Canio has categorically denied that he supports the ideology of fascism following the controversy that has surrounded his appointment as Sunderland manager.

• Powell: Di Canio a bold choice
• Di Canio ignoring media coverage
• Blog: The right to be right

Di Canio's arrival has been the focus of much media attention after former Labour MP David Miliband immediately resigned from his role as the club's vice-chairman and non-executive director, citing the coach's "past political statements" as the reason for his departure.

The Durham Miners Association has since asked for its banner to be removed from the Stadium of Light and returned in protest over Di Canio's arrival.

Unwilling to discuss his views at his unveiling on Tuesday, the former Swindon Town boss issued a statement on the club's official website on Wednesday, saying: "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 only - 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."

Currently preparing to face Chelsea on Sunday in his first match in charge of the club, Di Canio's Sunderland are in desperate need of points as they look to avoid the threat of relegation. The Wearsiders are 16th in the Premier League and sit just one point above the drop zone with seven games to go.


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