Di Canio – the Manager or Mussolini admirer?

From @afansopinion

I’m a 25yr old Dad of 2 boys. Enjoy writing about various football topics when I have some free time. Non biased Villa fan. In love with Andi Weimann. I’m no expert, these are just my thoughts, just a fans opinion, on the latest goings on, in the sometimes, not so beautiful game.

Di Canio – Whats more important, the Manager or Mussolini admirer?



I wonder who Brendan Rogers or Paul Lambert voted for in the last election. Actually, no I don’t, nor do I care, and neither should any of us. Should we?

Following the sacking of media darling Martin O’Neill by relegation threatened Sunderland at the weekend, the surprising appointment of Paulo Di Canio was made by Ellis Short. What has followed has been a media circus, the likes of which we have never seen in England regarding a managerial appointment. Despite the fact he has managed one club previously, the furore surrounding Paulo ‘the mad Italian’ being given a job in Premier League has been, in my opinon at least, completely ridiculous.

daily mial


So what’s the issue? Di Canio is a self-proclaimed Facist, that’s the issue. Mussolini was “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood” he says. Quite different to the views of you or I I’m sure but, they’re his veiws and he’s entitled to them.

Personally, I think the focus on Di Canio’s personal views on facism, have just overshadowed the fact that Sunderland have hired a guy to keep them in the Premiership who’s only managed in League 1 & 2.

Many people may have wild or unfavorable political views, some of whom you will sit by at football matches. Some you will work with but it’s not a question you get asked in an interview & nor should it be. His views, regardless of how extreme, should be challenged in a political conversation, in a political arena, not in every press conference! Is every manager now required to reveal who they vote for or what their thoughts on the changes to Welfare or the NHS are? Or is it just the ones who think differently than the rest of us who will be questioned and put under the spotlight?

Roy Keane admitted in a book, that he intentionally set out to injure a fellow professional. Nobody cared about that when he took the Sunderland job. What’s more important, a person’s own, political views that will most likely never be acted on or a person’s own actions, often a reflection of themselves? When buying a season ticket are we now going to be required to answer questions on our political allegiances? We champion our apparent free speech and right to an opinion in this country. However, it only ever seems to work one way. You can have free speech and an opinion, you’re entitled to it and should fight for it, as long as it’s the same opinion as the majority. Anything that differs from the mainstream doesn’t get received well. The hypocrisy of democracy I guess.

Sunderland have not hired Nick Griffin. They’ve hired an inexperienced manager. They haven’t hired Mussolini, they’ve hired a man who has only worked in League 2 and for a short time, League 1. This has almost been ignored. They won’t go down because he says he likes Mussolini, they’ll go down because he might not be the right choice.


Sunderland held a ‘Nelson Mandela day’ on the final game of Martin O’Neill’s tenure as part of their ‘invest in Africa’ initiative. A wonderful man Mandela, but a man who at one time had very unfavorable political links to terrorism. Much gets ignored in the way of a good story, (more often than not, the truth!) but at times, I find the press in this country pretty pathetic., as I’m sure do many of you.

The BBC have been at the centre of the story regards Di Canio and his views, many of their journalists questioning the appointment. Again, on the grounds of his political opinion rather than his management ability. This is the same BBC who allowed Di Canio to write a number of pieces for their website. Today they announced Di Canio received no payment for his work. Presumably, it’s ok to question someone based on their own views following getting them to work for you & endorsing them… as long as you don’t pay them any money.


Above is a brief Twitter conversation I had with UK-based reporter Rob Harris. He mentions that Di Canio refuses to answer questions about whether he is a fascist. Why should he? Apparently it’s relevant because he wrote about it in a book (a book published years ago!) I can’t see how someone’s political beliefs only become relevant when they are employed in a new position, just because they’ve published a book where some of those thoughts are discussed. Either people care about the fact he’s a fascist or, they now care he’s a fascist because he’s in charge of a Premier League club.


Swindon Town are not a big club. Some unhappiness and loss of sponsoship occurred following his appointment there. Much of this was reported but not widely, not on every news channel or on every newspapers front page. He still had the same views didn’t he? But he was managing Swindon. That’s the thing. They don’t (with no disrespect to them) make front page headlines. Even the most gutter worthy press in this country would, I’m sure, struggle to sensationalize a story about Swindon Town in a way that would then create national interest. Now he’s a Premier League manager – it’s news worthy.

So, it’s ok to be a fascist in Swindon then? David Milliband resigned from his position on the board at Sunderland due to Di Canio’s ‘past political statements’. That’s all very well but, whilst in politics and in a position of quite some influence, he did nothing to prevent Di Canio managing Swindon. There’s a big difference in caring enough about something to then try and stop it and caring about something enough that you just don’t want to be associated with it.

I’m sure Di Canio will do a good job. He’s the right kind of crazy they need in their dressing room to stay up. But let’s see how long the interest in his political preference goes on. My guess is once Sunderland win a game, it will all be forgotten. Much like most of the over sensationalized, over talked about, over reported ‘non news’ that gets repeated over and over again on Sky & BBC. Two days and it’s all over. I’ve had channel 405 on in the background for just half an hour and the press conference where Di Canio is asked again and again about his comments on fascism has been shown 3 times. In 30 minutes!

If Sunderland go down, nobody will care about his apparent love for Mussolini, it won’t be in the news. Because they won’t be in the Premiership and THAT is the main issue here. The favoritism of the top division in English football in almost all forms of mainstream media and the ignorance to the lower leagues. This is a self-created problem in England. The media have chosen what we should be interested in and what matters. So for now, the fact that a man, with very little management experience has recently been employed as a manager of a team who could well be relegated is not the issue.

His own, private, personal political beliefs are more important. Because the media have decided so.

Good luck Paulo. You’re really going to need it!

Thanks for reading.

You can follow me on Twitter; @afansopinion

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