Di Canio faces renewed questions about political beliefs

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PAOLO Di Canio refused to confirm or deny whether he was a fascist yesterday as the furore over the new Sunderland manager’s political views intensified.

The 44-year-old Italian, who played 41 times for Sheffield Wednesday between 1997-99, was asked if he was a fascist on several occasions at a news conference but did not directly respond, even though he was clearly angered by the questioning and the briefing was abruptly ended.

Di Canio previously stated in a 2005 interview with an Italian news agency to being “a fascist, but not a racist”, and his apparent political leanings have already led to the resignation of the club’s vice-chairman David Miliband, Labour MP for South Shields and a former foreign secretary.

Di Canio said: “I don’t have to answer any more this question. There was a very good statement from the club, (with) very, very clear words that came out from me. My life speaks for me so there is no need to speak any more about this situation because it’s ridiculous and pathetic.

“I can’t every two weeks, every two months, every 10 months answer the same questions that are not really in my area. We are in a football club and not in the House of Parliament. I’m not a political person, I will talk about only football.”

Di Canio, who also played for West Ham and Charlton, has been pictured making a fascist salute to Lazio fans in the past and the Durham Miners’ Association has asked the club to return a symbolic banner which is kept at the Stadium of Light if Di Canio remains in his post, describing his appointment as a “betrayal and a disgrace”.