Monsieur Salut writes: yes, Drummer (comment yesterday), we ALL hope to win some football matches soon. But the piece by a Newcastle United fan writing under the nom de guerre of @BallstheCat, describing PDC’s appearance in the Steve Harper testimonial and analysing his controversial political utterances and gestures, was interesting, conscientiously researched and well written. It has attracted a lot of attention among Sunderland supporters and, in my view, deserved an airing here. An occasional Salut! Sunderland writer, Mick Goulding, who contributed an excellent, balanced article* during the PDC appointment furore, made a response that cries out to be reproduced, too …
I’m a Sunderland fan who was directed here (@BallstheCat’s site Anywhere Like Heaven), by other Sunderland fans. I think your piece is intelligent and well written; but I also think your argument is confused and at odds with what I perceive your point to be.
You are absolutely right to say that football wields a strong social power in its community and contributes to its collective identity.
But in England, and in the North East of England, this has nothing to do with Politics (with the capital P), whereas in Italy it certainly does.
As with your picture of Livorno, most Italian clubs have long-standing political affiliations (which are actively maintained by their fans). Lazio are a fascist club and proud of it. Livorno (and others, including Juventus) declare themselves Communist (or at least occupiers of the left).
Di Canio, therefore, exactly matches your picture of Lucarelli – being the politically opposite side of the same coin. But we don’t do that sort of thing here, and this kind of politics is very definitely separated from football. Your idea, therefore, that we should somehow (you aren’t specific on exactly how) be “confronting the undesirable issues head-on, turning them into a force for good” simply doesn’t make sense. What force for good? Should we all start doing Roman salutes and getting “Dux” tattoos?
What we have done is embrace his passion, purely in the footballing context, and back him in his honesty and forthright opinions on professionalism etc – and your comments on this aspect of Di Canio’s regime are well put.
But we can buy into that without relating to the extraneous other stuff (like fascism, salutes and tattoos). It might be the other stuff which makes Di Canio what he is; it doesn’t follow that we need anything to do with it in order to share his views on football, or what’s good for Sunderland.
You have created a false dichotomy by accusing Sunderland fans of either “excusing Di Canio or burying their heads in the sand” – because there is at least one other, perfectly respectable, position that fans have taken.
Some of us have decided that our continuing support of our club doesn’t depend or hinge on the political beliefs of one employee. We can hate and despise Di Canio’s politics – which is neither excusing him, nor burying our heads in the sand – while still accepting his footballing credentials as a coach.
There’s nothing hypocritical about this because we neither know (nor care, probably) about the politics of the owner, the players or any others in the administration of the club. The important thing to remember is that Di Canio is not Sunderland AFC. WE are Sunderland AFC and we will still be here when Di Canio (and Ellis Short etc) has gone. This is simple pragmatism – because we’d all look a bit silly, having taken on board everything to do with his politics, if he then walked out on us because we were bottom of the league at Xmas.
I love everything Di Canio has said about football, the players, training, diet, passion etc. But he’s not someone I’d look to for sophisticated political analysis – in the same way that I don’t get my religious views from David Icke or Glenn Hoddle and I don’t evaluate our society based on watching Jeremy Kyle.
It’s even difficult to know exactly what Di Canio’s political views are, because he hasn’t been able to adequately explain them. At the end of the day, they’re an irrelevance and don’t contain anything that is worth investing a lot of time in – much less seeking a way to harness them for some mythical “force for good”.
And finally, I’m not surprised by his admiration for Mishima, because ritualistic suicide over an exaggerated (and faintly ridiculous) sense of honour is the mark of a naive, narrow-minded, self-centred view of the world. It’s also the mark of someone (like Mussolini and like Di Canio) who is, at the end of the day, a little bit crazy.
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.
* Mick’s response, which builds on the theme of his earlier Salut! Sunderland article –
– Di Canio and me: ‘nothing will stop me supporting my club’ – prompted this exchange between him and the Newcastle fan:
Balls the Cat:
Agreed, my post was rambling, over long and unclear in parts. The ‘false dichotomy’ I created was unintentional but as a rapidly ageing Newcastle fan, that ‘black and white’ thinking, might perhaps be excused. The perfectly respectable position you speak of regarding the manager is, frankly, what I would do too. I’d like to think there are more of Sunderland fans of a similar view.
Good lad! I imagine we are equally agreed that the presence of a full house at St. James doesn’t indicate universal satisfaction with Mike Ashley!
Balls the Cat:
Oh, absolutely. Although judging by the huge numbers still patronising the club bars/shops, we seem to be devising a cunningly unified strategy to settle the ‘owner’s’ debts and expedite his departure. Plus ça change…