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TRUE FASCIST; FLAK CATS DI CANIO ON DEFENSIVE Paolo finally denies tag only for Lazio historian to brand him a...


PAOLO DI CANIO finally moved to distance himself from fascism yesterday - just as Lazio's club historian was branding Sunderland's new boss a true fascist.

A political storm has erupted since Di Canio was named as the successor to Martin O'Neill last weekend.

It all stems from an interview the Italian gave eight years ago when he declared: "I'm a fascist, not a racist."

RESPECT And Di Canio repeatedly refused to renounce that claim when pressed by reporters at his official unveiling by Sunderland on Tuesday.

That led to further protests yesterday with the Dean of Durham, Michael Sandgrove, claiming he was struggling to remain a fan of the club in light of Di Canio's "self-confessed fascism".

Former foreign secretary David Miliband has already resigned as Sunderland's vice chairman over the ex-Celtic star's appointment as manager.

But Di Canio tried to repair some of the damage yesterday by releasing a statement on the club's website.

He said: "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 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 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 a football man and this and my fa se Al family are my focus. Now I will speak only of football." But the controversy over his politics looks set to rumble on after Lazio historian Alfonso Dessi claimed Di Canio had been a true fascist during his time in Rome. Di Canio was brought up as a Lazio fan and enjoyed two spells with his boyhood heroes at either end of his playing career.

an he He caused controversy by making "Roman salutes" to the fans and Dessi claims he made a huge impact with the club's right-wing ultras.

R cl cl TERRORIST Dessi said: "He was a true fascist. He declared himself a fascist and never denied his ideas. He had a huge impact on the so-called hooligans because of his political ideas but no impact on the media."

Di Canio also has a DUX tattoo in tribute to Benito Mussolini on his arm and pictures have now emerged of him attending the funeral of Paolo Signorelli, an Italian fascist linked to a terrorist bombing massacre.

So it seems unlikely the storm that has engulfed Sunderland in the last few days will die down in the wake of yesterday's statement from their manager.

'He declared himself a fascist and never denied his ideas'


UGLY PAST n Paolo saluted fans and went to funeral of Signorelli, left

NO HIDING PLACE Z Di Canio tries his best to stay out of the spotlight at training yesterday but the storm over his politics seems set to rumble on despite his statement
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 4, 2013
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