EASINGTON MP Grahame Morris says his beloved football club has scored an “own-goal” by appointing Paolo Di Canio.
Di Canio, 44, is reported to have described himself in the past as “a fascist but not a racist” after giving a Nazi-style salute while playing for Lazio in 2005.
Mr Morris, who regularly attends Sunderland games, said he has yet to decide what action to take after seeing his former colleague David Miliband resign from his role as vice-chairman of the Black Cats due to Di Canio’s political views.
Mr Morris said: “I have a feeling this appointment is an own goal on the part of the chairman. It’s a panic measure. It’s still my club as far as I am concerned but I am not happy and I haven’t decided what I will do.
“I’m disappointed due to his previous statements about him being a fascist.
“I know he is saying that’s not relevant, but we have problems here with right-wing groups. No doubt they will get some traction from his appointment. The views he holds are not acceptable.”
Sunderland supporters in East Durham have given their backing, saying politics should not be a part of football.
Michael Dunn, Easington Supporters branch treasurer, said: “Political views should have nothing to do with his appointment at Sunderland AFC and what happens when the team steps out onto the field. Nothing was said when he was appointed at Swindon and now he is in the Premier League it is all coming out.
“The fans who are complaining about him should put their efforts into supporting the club more than anything else.”
Sunderland insist claims Di Canio has racist or fascist sympathies are insulting to both the “integrity of the club” and their new manager.