Di Canio: the club speaks and so does he

Jake asks the question of the day
Jake asks the question of the day

This statement* from Sunderland AFC is clearly intended for general consumption so Salut! Sunderland is happy to reproduce it. No further comment save to note that the media “and other individuals” can hardly be blamed if Paolo Di Canio has called himself a fascist in the past. Blaming the media for everything is easy, unthinking and in this case wrong …


“Sunderland AFC and Head Coach Paolo Di Canio
have issued the following statement in response to comments made by certain sections of the media and other individuals since his appointment was announced yesterday.

Paolo spoke passionately and honestly regarding the inaccurate portrayal of his beliefs and values from some quarters.

He said: ‘Something can happen many years ago but what counts is the facts. My life speaks for me. Of course it hurts me because people try to take your dignity and that is not fair.

‘I believe in my pillars and I have values. What offends me more than anything is not because they touch me; they touch what my parents gave to me; the values they gave to me. This is not acceptable.

‘What I can say is that if someone is hurt, I am sorry. But this didn’t come from me, it came from a big story that people put out in a different way to what it was.

‘I never have a problem in my past. 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. I know it is a part of my job to do interviews because I am well-known, but sometimes it suits their purpose to put big headlines and a big story.

‘I don’t have a problem with anyone. I haven’t had a problem in the past and I don’t know why I have to keep repeating my story, to be defending  myself on something that doesn’t belong to me every time I change clubs. Talk about racism? That is absolutely stupid, stupid and ridiculous. The people who know me can change that idea quickly. When I was in England my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager – they can tell you everything about my character.

‘I don’t want to talk about politics because it’s not my area. We are not in the Houses of Parliament, we are in a football club. I want to talk about sport. I want to talk about football, my players, the Board and the fans. My first priority is my family and my daughters, that’s obvious, and secondly to have the responsibility for thousands of people. This is my priority and I want to be focused on this aspect. I don’t want to talk any more about politics – I am not a politics person.’

CEO Margaret Byrne said: “Sunderland AFC is a traditional football club, with a rich and proud history. It has a strong ethos and ethics and that has not changed in any shape or form.

‘Naturally it’s been very disappointing to read some of the reaction to Paolo’s appointment in the last 24 hours. 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. 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.

‘Paolo has spoken emotively and at length in order to clarify some of the misconceptions that surround him and historical comments and actions attributed to him in the past.

‘My role and that of the Board is to act in the best interests of this club at all times and in appointing Paolo Di Canio we feel we have done just that. It is disappointing that some people are trying to turn the appointment of a head coach into a political circus.

‘We are a football club and now want to allow Paolo and the team to focus on the rest of the season.’

* From safc.com

Monsieur Salut, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, by Matt
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32 thoughts on “Di Canio: the club speaks and so does he”

  1. Keith says “The Durhan Miners have condemed PDC”. I didn’t know there were any (miners) left. I prefer to know – for example – what do the Nissan workers feel?

    • There are plenty of ex miners and their widows and children around in the North East and the union continues to act on their behalf with regard to welfare, compensation etc.

      I take your point but it is surely not unexpected that the leaders of the Union will have a view and voice it. That is part of their remit.

  2. Let PDC do his job and then we can be his judge and jury until then good luck Paulo the true fans will be behind you and you will get our backing just like previous managers have and will do in the future FTM ..

  3. Well this is nice, isn’t it? Just three days ago I felt like I was on the set of the walking dead. Now we might wake from our slumber, its been fifty years after all, maybe it just took a volcano, like this one. I don’t think short saw this coming, but then, he’s appointed a football manager, not the regional governor. Best of luck Paolo!

    • Is Short even in the country? Does he realise what a shitstorm this has caused? Would a British owner have appointed Di Canio or do foreign owners not understand the British psyche? I myself have no problems with Di Canio on a purely footballing level, but our club (ours not Ellis Short’s) surely doesn’t need this.

      • As I said I don’t believe Short did, it was a pure football decision, that much is clear. I also don’t believe the club should back down to people who won’t give the bloke a chance to show what he’s all about, and would rather condemn him for a few words he spoke in Italy, without knowing the context or meaning behind it. Wannabe local politicians leap out to get their five minutes, judging the man for saluting his boyhood clubs fans, but will completely ignore the entirety of his actions in England both as a player and a manager. The majority of fans aren’t wiling to do that, and are not confusing politics with football. there are plenty that think the club could have handled this better, but they will also realise they are entitled to simply talk football and allow the man to do the job he was hired for.

  4. Total Sport totally dominated by Di Canio issue. I really don’t see how he can stay. Cancel his contract and get Gus Poyet (after thoroughly checking his background).

  5. The Durhan Miners have condemed PDC without evidence or even a democratic meetinf, they judged a man without an enquiry. The pillars of democracy are base on Justice, Equaity and Freedom every person is innocent until proven guilty. What happened to integrity, what happened to a fair hearing. I have never seen so many publicity bandwagon jumpers in my life. I can walk past a war memorial without judging Di Canio because his life has been lived in a law abiding dedicated way the rhetori that is being spewed out is wothout foundation or truth. Thatv as far as I am concerned is fascist judgemnet with evidence was the basis of Hitlers Germany

  6. Excellent post CSB. It is indeed a very good analogy.

    There are of course personal contradictions regarding almost every aspect of supporting your club. I felt that O’Neill’s pursuit of Danny Graham in the last transfer window was a bridge too far. The last thing we needed was another Mag following on from the previous debacles. He is also a cart horse as everyone can see for themselves. At the time I felt that O’Neill was guilty of eliminating any remaining self respect that we had in doing this. At the same time you might say that Ellis Short has done the same by installing this new manager. However, I am prepared to accept and get behind him as he attempts to save our season.

    There’s another side to this of course. We have long since recognised that SAFC has some sort of image problem. We struggle to attract the right players (and even the right managers who we perhaps at the time were convinced were the right choice ie Bruce and MON). Our image is one of harsh northern city with decaying industry, under achieving football team with ridiculously loyal and large support from the descendants of blue collar workers in the shipyards and pits. There is nothing wrong with any of that, but it doesn’t appeal to many modern footballers. We needed to change that image.

    Strange as it may seem at this moment, but the appointment may in the longer term turn out to be an inspirational choice. Not least as it may be easier to achieve the objective of becoming an internationally recognised brand at some time in the future by moving on from the perception that we are manager by a self proclaimed fascist.That may turn out to be an easier accomplishment than trying to change the perception that so many people have of us at present, or did until the weekend anyway.

    You never know, he might just turn out to be a canny manager as well. I’ve watched some of the interviews and reports and have to say that I hope his team talks and tactics are easier to follow than some of his rhetoric which was difficult to grasp. Difficult for a hard bitten old socialist like me.

  7. Hypothetical Example: The Minister for Transport who is in charge of the highways and byways of the UK reveals that he is (select one of the following, homophobic, xenophobic, right wing, left wing , sexist, misogynist etc. etc. whichever one or all you disagree with) and states it in the press. Being highly offended by this person beliefs would you in protest take your car of the road and refuse to use it until he had gone?

    I would not as he does not own the highway, he is only there for a period of time to run its use. His views do not influence the infrastructure that he is there to run or its use. In the same light PDC views, good or bad, do not effect the infrastructure of SAFC.

    Some people will disagree with this, some will agree, its individual choice, a question of where you draw the line and over what issue you choose to. That’s democracy in process, you the individual make your choice.
    Everyone and his dog have had their say on this, we have all looked at the evidence and balanced our opinion on probability as it relates to our own interpretation of this evidence (or I hope we have). Some of us will have to just agree to disagree and act according to our own code.
    Whichever way you choose you should also respect the decision of others.

    I personally think this has now been done to death and will not comment any further on it. I would however add that I hope we can now return to the football issues that this site was intended for and that those who wish to (even geordiedoonsooth, or am I going too far?) continue to contribute and that those that feel they can’t continue, we see back before too long.

  8. It doesn’t seem to me that there is any need for comments or clarification of any sort. His” life speaks for itself” he says. Indeed it does. He also went on to say that “my daughter goes to Southampton University.” the relevance of which to either football or politics is rather lost on me, I’m afraid. I’m not sure what we’d have made of it had she elected to read chemistry at Sheffield or politics at Leicester. He may clarify that later.

    It’s a surprise, well shock appointment. No doubt about that. There are some positive elements to this. Di Canio is at least not Steve MaLaren. We can all heave a collective sigh of relief for that, and another for the fact that we are at least not having to suffer either Mark Hughes or even worse, Mr McLeish. The other positive is that it has also spared us (at least to some degree), the routinised autopsy of O’Neill’s dismissal. We can also be grateful for that. Only the deluded would have anything positive to say about O’Neill’s catastrophic reign, which can effectively be summarised by reference to two out of character performances against Man City and the transient glimmer of inspiration of the nine day wonder from the Cregan estate. It is now day 11 at least.

    If we can get anything at all from the games away at Chelsea and the unwashed then few of us will care very much about his political persuasion or indeed whether he is the reincarnation of Mussolini himself. We are stuck with him now, or at least for a bit. Hopefully, we can look back at the end of the season and say “well at least the forwards are scoring.”

  9. By the way, does Barryfromdurham get a prize for the most thumbs down per column inches? A MON mug perhaps

    Apologies for predictive spelling issues

  10. Football managers have a huge platform. Whether we like it or not it’s how it is in the 21st century. We can’t go back to more innocent times. SAFC has an international presence. So the question seems to be should football managers be regarded as role models? I think they shoud be. Quinn was an excellent role model as a footballer and Chairman. He enhanced our reputation. SAFC is a global brand and Margaret Byrne has shown a high degree of incompetence in (mis) handling this situation. Our brand as suffered repuational damage.

    Queue the Luddites who will want to eviscerate anyone who has the temerity to question this appointment….or discuss taboo issues such as brand equity….Short has spent a considerabe amount of money….to buy the SAFC brand

    people make decisions for a wide range of reasons. For some it’s blind faith, which I wholly respect. However many have complex reasons for buying football tickets. Some of the responses on this site will only strengthen the resolve of those expressing a preference to not support the appointment. Surely these views, whilst a minority, shula be respected.

    I always tell my friends that SAFC s a club for thinkers who know their football. There’s a perfectly good club up the road for those who don’t engage their brains. Or am I simply a skunk in disguise? The only real fans are the ones who question nothing?? Are you sure?

  11. Do any of us really understand what fascist in Itayl really beklive in today or what it stood for prior to Mussolini selling his soul to Hitler? .

  12. As a student in the 70s I spent a month in Perugia. The left-wing students who befriended us would lower their voices if they discussed politics. There were a lot of fascists in the town who would cause trouble if they identified them. This isn’t to say that di Canio is going to start beating up the good socialists of Sunderland and Durham, but my fear is that he could act as a focal point for the far right, already active in Sunderland. He wants to keep politics out of football – it’s a bit too late for that.

  13. Away from the political arguments, I think this extract from Margaret Byrne’s statement is enlightening. “Anyone who has met Paolo and spoken with him personally, as we did in depth before making this appointment….” would indicate that the decision to sack O’Neill was made some time ago and they were simply waiting for Di Canio to accept the post. I doubt Saturday’s result had much to do with it after reading that and wonder if O’Neill was aware of the approach, which might explain his downbeat attitude and poor body language in recent weeks. If his dismissal came as a shock then the club has acted in a pretty dishonourable way.

  14. The club’s statement is very poor, simply trying to sweep things under the carpet. Foolish.

    ‘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.’

    The above completely ignores his own previous statements and does nothing to answer everyone’s concerns. Today there was a press conference where he refused to answer the question ‘Are you still a fascist?’ When the reporter asks a follow up question and Di Canio answers you can hear Margaret Byrne telling him not to answer and telling the reporter that he won’t. This is utter madness as there are clearly legitimate questions that have to be answered. They are NOT going to just go away. The club really need to get on to this and have a clear statement telling us that he no longer holds these views. If he does still hold these views he has no place as manager (head coach) of the club and will be quite rightly vilified.

  15. I will always, always support my team, how could I not after a lifetime of doing it? And I REALLY want to get behind our manager but doubts linger. He says he is not a political animal, so why doesn’t he say “I’m not a fascist, when I said I was a fascist I didn’t really understand the meaning of the word.” I wish he would explain his fascist (or Roman) salute when playing Roma with their sizeable Jewish support. I want to like Di Canio, he actually seems like a very likeable bloke, and his enthusiasm and liking for team discipline might well be what our bunch of lazy bastards need at the moment, but the statement yesterday was all a bit vague. Say something clear and direct Paulo, there’s a lot of people out there who are in a moral dilemma at the moment.

    • I think that is a balanced and valid post Jake, This issue will not go away simply because the Club and PDC are ignoring it. He really needs to qualify his position.

      Having said that it is bad making anyone having to state what their political, religious or sexual orintation is just to satisfy a demand that has been amply fuelled by the usual suspects, for want a better word.

      Its a difficult one because on the one hand the Club and PDC are saying this is not issue as there is no issue to answer, but there is still the unsubstantiated comments. is the right time for PDC to underline exactly what he did say and mean?

      Judging by the fall out of this on multiple blogs etc, perhaps he does need to state catergorically one way or the other as it has obviously hit a raw nerve with the supporters. We need to be united behind the team at this time and perhaps the Club really needs to look at the bigger picture, democratic right and freedom of speech notwithstanding.

  16. Going through the newspaper this morning, I could find no negative comment about Di Canio by anybody that knew him well. All speak highly of him and emphasis his dedication and work ethic. I don’t believe you can work closely with someone and not have an indication of their political ideals. Clearly he is not a right wing extremist he is a hard working family man with strong moral ethics. He has been unfairly judged, could it be because is not from the British Isles?

    • How can you say that someone who has a tattoo honouring Mussolini is not an extremist? OK, in Italy there are more people at both ends of the spectrum and having such an affiliation doesn’t seem so odd there, but here such views are rightly condemned (by most). Doesn’t the word Ultra say it all ? He could be the nicest bloke you could meet, he may be a hard working family man but I’m sure even the worst dictators can be charming and kind to their kids.

  17. After more than 50 years as a supporter, I thought I had seen it all. Seriously bemused by it all , as I guess most of us are. O’Neill going was right but the timing is strange. Two thoughts from club announcements, firstly Head Coach ? A new one for us, and he doesn’t mention us in his statement ? Also , no news about the current back room staff, normally they go with the manager

  18. CEO Margaret Byrne is an apologist for a fascist. Soul sold. I will never forgive this betrayal.

  19. This is becoming a kangaroo court, there was an emotive incident 8 years ago, followed by good behaviour, his statement refutes his facsist beliefs, and they are those of his parents who by all account were working class
    Italians, He is being seen and judged unfairly andthat is not right. Give the man afair hearing before you condemn him

  20. If PDC was a racist they would not let him near this club.It is ridiculous to accuse him of that.

    I am more concerned with his inexperience as a premiership manager.But when you look at Moyes or even Ferguson it shows it can be done.

    As a manager at Swindon he offered to pay for players out of his own money…how many mangers would be willing to do that?What I do know is he will give this 100 % effort and if he fails it will not be because he left any stone unturned.I think Ellis likes that.

    That is two mangers now(Keane being the other) who have comme a cropper over their absence from training sessions.

  21. Putting aside the political debates for a second, does anyone really expect this relationship to last long anyway ? (and I’m someone who pretty much thinks anyone was worth a punt, rather than sticking with O’Neill).

    The volatile Di Canio and an owner who, lets face it, appears in reality to understand very little about English football……it’s certain to end in tears…. probably in about 12 months time I’d say if I was a betting man.

    • Once the press and the anti fascist groups crank up the pressure on PDC I doubt he will be our manager next season . Lets hope he leaves us in the Premiership

  22. Why is there all of this “racism” fuss? There was nothing like this when Di Canio became manager at Swindon and there were no racist incidents from him during his time at Swindon.
    With regard to Milliband are we seriously expected to believe that he was going to continue being a Director from his office in America? His “protest” resignation is just a cynical attempt to make people believe that he is a man of principles.
    As a life-long supporter and season ticket holder I really don’t think that Di Canio is the right man for the job, but, then again, I was convinced that Roy Keane, Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill were each, in turn, the perfect fit – so what do I know?

    • Focussing on racism just deflects the argument. This isn’t about racism but fascism. In his statement above he does not deny being a supporter of Mussolini or a fascist. This is what the issue is about. There are a lot of fascists in Italy where it’s a more mainstream political view but it doesn’t make it in any way acceptable.

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