Premier League

Paolo Di Canio refuses to talk politics

Sunderland's new Italian football manager Paolo Di Canio poses for photographers with a team jersey
Sunderland's new manager Paolo Di Canio endured a difficult first press conference.
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New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio refused to expand on his political views in his first press conference at the Stadium of Light.

The 44-year-old has previously admitted 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.

The club were keen for Tuesday's press conference to be purely focused on football, but inevitably the question of just what Di Canio stood for came up again.

He 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.

 

"I don't want to talk any more about politics for one reason because I'm not in the House of Parliament, I'm not a political person, I will talk about only football."

The former Swindon boss was in bullish mood when asked about his new squad's chances of staying up.

"I am coming to a big club, I was prepared (for the attention) to be honest, not because it's Paolo Di Canio but because of the change at the club," he said. "I have massive respect for people's opinions but I don't care about what I read or hear, not because I'm arrogant but because I know who I am and because I know I am capable of doing my job properly."

Sunderland are perilously placed just a point above the drop zone following a winless run of eight games but Di Canio spoke boldly of his confidence they will remain in the top flight.

"When I got the call from (chairman) Ellis Short, I felt fire in my belly! I would have swam to Sunderland to take the job," he added.

RAW DEAL

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"Press like to call me the mad Italian, but I would confidently bet everything I have on Sunderland remaining in the top flight.

"With my energy I'm sure we can get something from the next seven games. I hope my ways give the team more confidence on the pitch.

"The players worked very hard in my first training session. My arrival is good motivation for them."

Di Canio released a statement on Monday which he hoped would clarify his views, in which he said: "I expressed an opinion in an interview many years ago. Some pieces were taken for media convenience.

"They took my expression in a very, very negative way - but it was a long conversation and a long interview. It was not fair. Sometimes it suits their purpose to put big headlines and a big story.

"When I was in England (as a player) my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager - they can tell you everything about my character.

"Talk about racism? That is absolutely stupid, stupid and ridiculous."

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 Di Canio's appointment as a "betrayal and a disgrace".

Asked on Tuesday if he had a message for the DMA, Di Canio said: "I have said many, many words in the past and people have picked the words they wanted, I can't keep going on about my life and my family.

"The people who are talking in this way, they don't understand Paolo Di Canio."

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