It is irrefutable that Paolo Di Canio is a self-proclaimed fascist.
That’s not me saying it, he boasted about it.
So it’s all the more surprising that senior management in Sunderland football club can’t find the links to Di Canio’s own words and verify them for themselves.
However, as a public service, I will help those incapable or unwilling to see the bleeding obvious.
Carl Packman tackles the issue of Italian fascism and racism straight on, Can you be a fascist, Paolo Di Canio, without being a racist?
Bonnie Greer is succinct, Stupidity and Anti-Semitism, Thy Name Is Legion.
Even the right-wing Torygraph, for once, can spot this fascist:
“Di Canio, though a wonderfully gifted former footballer, is a fascist. That’s not a slur or a smear, but a statement of fact. “I’m a fascist, not a racist,” is how the new Duce of the North East describes himself.
He has a tattoo with DVX on his shoulder, the symbol of the former Italian dictator. In his autobiography he wrote “I think he [Mussolini] was a deeply misunderstood individual. He deceived people. His actions were often vile. But all this was motivated by a higher purpose. He was basically a very principled individual.”
And in 2005 he was banned for giving a straight-arm fascist salute to Lazio fans after scoring in his side’s 3-1 win over bitter rivals Roma.
Alessandra Mussolini, the former dictator’s granddaughter, praised Di Canio, saying “How nice that Roman salute was. It delighted me so much … I shall write him a thank-you note.”
Paolo di Canio is obviously a complex character. From what I’ve read about him, his attraction to fascism is as much historical as it is political.
In an in-depth article for the Independent in 2011, an associate of Di Canio’s is quoted as saying “Paolo is not, and has never been, a bad person, or an ideological fascist. Certain things he has said and done – like the salute with the Lazio fans – have to do with his psychological history, particularly his former compulsive tendencies and pronounced mood swings.”
All of which may be true. But he’s a fascist all the same.”[My emphasis.]
In the Guardian, Matthew Goodwin provides a slightly more academic approach:
“In their quest to avoid relegation from the Premier League, Sunderland Association Football Club have appointed a self-declared fascist as manager. By hiring Paolo Di Canio, the Sunderland board appears to have thrown its club (and by extension the whole English game ) back to an era in which the dividing line between extremism and football was far from clear.
It would be surprising if Sunderland tried to claim political naivety, as Di Canio’s statements of political belief are on record. These include a number of public fascist salutes, which in several European countries would earn him a lifetime bans from the sport. There is Di Canio’s description of Benito Mussolini as “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood”. And in case of any lingering doubt, there is also the ‘Dux’ tattoo on Di Canio’s arm, a reference to the dictator’s epithet, Il Duce. “
Eurosport via Yahoo, Premier League – ‘I’m a fascist, not a racist’: Di Canio in quotes. All the more damning.
A rather weak, Paolo Di Canio told to clarify political beliefs after Sunderland appointment. I think we are past that by now.
BBC News reports, Paolo Di Canio refuses to answer fascism questions.
Finally, if you are in any doubt, ask what the tattoo on Di Canio’s back stands for.
Update 1: There is a false idea doing the rounds that Di Canio’s been misquoted, presumably he’s been misphotographed too? Doing the fascist salute!
Update 2: Graham Spiers puts a favourable case for Di Canio but notes:
“Sunderland’s blundering attempts to smooth over their decision to appoint Di Canio has been a side-show in itself. Did no-one actually brief Margaret Byrne, the club’s chief executive, on the Di Canio back-story, as she issued statements which were either contradictory or senseless?
“To accuse him [Di Canio] now, as some have done, of being a racist or of having fascist sympathies, is insulting both to him and to the integrity of this football club,” proclaimed Byrne.
Eh, Margaret…it is Di Canio himself who said: “I am a fascist.” And so far – though this might come – the Italian has yet to make any clear statement renouncing these views.
Some are trying to claim that this controversy is a contrivance – that when Di Canio was at Swindon Town for 22 months all this seemed to matter not a jot.
This is no counter-argument at all. This is how the world works: out of sight, out of mind. By definition, the higher profile a personality gains, the more his or her character will be exposed to scrutiny. “
Update 3: James Bloodworth at LeftFootForward, Paolo Di Canio: “a fascist but not a racist”. That’s ok then.
Update 5: Regrettably, Trifunov’s piece for the Global Post doesn’t mention that Di Canio’s propensity to give the fascism salute was not limited to a single football match, as the above photos show.