NEW Sunderland boss Paulo Di Canio has said he does not support fascism and has been ‘deeply hurt’ by ‘attacks’ on the Black Cats.
Since the Italian took the job the job at Sunderland, both he and the club have taken flak and faced questions over views expressed when he was a player at Lazio.
Di Canio refused to answer questions about his political beliefs at his first news conference at Sunderland yesterday, but has now released a statement on the issue.
He said: “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.”
The Dean of Durham is the latest public figure to express concerns over Di Canio’s views.
The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove said his appointment had raised some very difficult questions.
He said as a child of a Jewish war refugee he found Di Canio’s alleged beliefs “deeply troubling”.
The dean called on the Sunderland boss to renounce fascism as he was in danger of being associated with groups like the British National Party.
He went on to say that politics and high-profile sport, like religion, were about the whole of life and that football is deeply political.
Di Canio has also been criticised by the Durham Miners’ Association, which demanded the return of its Wearmouth Miners’ Banner, which is on permanent display at the Stadium of Light.
In a 2005 interview, Di Canio stated he was “a fascist but not a racist” and he has also been pictured apparently giving a fascist salute to Lazio “ultras”.
New photographs also today emerged of Di Canio apparently attending the funeral of a well-known Italian fascist.