Back of the Net's John Foster reports on a timely controversy...
The world of football has united to condemn new Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio for his alleged fascist sympathies, just days after the Black Cats appointed the Italian, and a mere eight years since the Italian declared himself a fascist.
Voices from all levels of the game were raised in protest at Di CanioÃ¢ÂÂs views, with pressure group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) declaring it a disgrace that the Italian should be in charge of a Premier League team instead of a League One side like Swindon Town.
Ã¢ÂÂWhen a coach in the Premier League wonÃ¢ÂÂt clarify or renounce his fascist views, itÃ¢ÂÂs worrying,'' FARE director Piara Powar told Back Of The Net. Ã¢ÂÂThis sort of intolerance does not belong in the English top flight. It belongs in the third tier, or at a pinch, the bottom half of the Championship.Ã¢ÂÂ
Anti-extremist pressure group Unite Against Fascism also had strong words about SunderlandÃ¢ÂÂs new manager.
Weyman Bennett, UAF Joint National Secretary, said: "I don't want a five-year old Sunderland fan turning round and saying Ã¢ÂÂDi Canio's a brilliant footballer and he's a fascist, so maybe I should be a fascist.Ã¢ÂÂ That for me would be a tragedy.
Ã¢ÂÂA five-year old Swindon fan, on the other hand, I have no problem with at all.Ã¢ÂÂ
Di Canio, who as a fascist played for a number of British clubs and until last month wrote a column for the BBC, had warned in his 2000 autobiography that Italy faced becoming a Muslim country within ten years, a statement that caused little fuss at the time.
Ã¢ÂÂYou have to remember that Paolo is a hotheaded but loveable rogue,Ã¢ÂÂ explained football journalist and political commentator Geoff Spork. Ã¢ÂÂAsk yourself, could a fascist score that amazing goal against Wimbledon, or push over a referee, or make a fascist salute to some right-wing ultras?
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre talking thirteen years ago, back before fascism was bad. Anyway, one manÃ¢ÂÂs fascism is just another manÃ¢ÂÂs banter.Ã¢ÂÂ
Meanwhile, the FA are said to be considering a reboot of their Ã¢ÂÂKick It OutÃ¢ÂÂ anti-racism drive, following the runaway success of their latest campaign, Homophobia: LetÃ¢ÂÂs Just Ignore It.
Editor's note: this is satire - quotes may be fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.
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