Di Canio not talking politics

  • Last Updated: April 2 2013, 13:35 BST

New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio refused to expand on his political views after being asked during his first press conference since taking the job whether or not he was a fascist.

Di Canio not talking politics

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."

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."

Di Canio did concede he has the nickname of "the mad Italian" and backed it up by saying he would have swam to Sunderland to take the job.

The 44-year-old said: "It is obvious that in the past people have been sceptical because it was my first job as Swindon, League Two, League One, the mad Italian, he will fight his players, but at the end I won the league.

"I am young, people say the same, I have no experience in the Premiership but I am not worried."

Sunderland owner Ellis Short approached the former West Ham striker after dispensing of the services of Martin O'Neill on Saturday and Di Canio thought the American businessman was on a wind-up when he called him.

"Late in the afternoon after the Manchester (United) game, I received a phone call and I was surprised because many times it was happened that a manager was sacked and my name, Di Canio, was 5-1 odds," he said.

"When I received the phone call from Mr Short, I thought it was a joke and I was ready to say a bad word - I thought it was a friend and I would have lost my job!

"But it was a big surprise and I had the fire in my stomach. I said yes after a second and I said I come by swim, no problem."

Di Canio inherits a side dealing with relegation worries, but he is confident he has the tools to make sure any concerns are put to bed.

When asked how much he would bet on a Sunderland survival, he said: "You call me the mad Italian so I bet what I have got. People are sceptical, it's not Paolo Di Canio who makes the statistics, I hear people talking about my statistics but it doesn't mean anything. I see managers with more experience than Paolo Di Canio, they are relegated. Why not change this habit one day?"

Di Canio's support team from Swindon have all followed him to Wearside with Fabrizio Piccareta appointed first-team coach.

Domenico Doardo takes over as goalkeeping coach and Claudio Donatelli as fitness coach, while Giulio Viscardi is the Black Cats' new physiotherapist/masseur.

The Italian quartet all served alongside Di Canio at Swindon from May 2011 to February 2013.

Piccareta, 47, briefly took over as caretaker boss at Swindon after Di Canio resigned on February 18 and oversaw the 3-1 win at Tranmere.

Meanwhile, Steve Walford, Steve Guppy, Jim Henry and Seamus McDonagh have all left Sunderland following O'Neill's sacking.


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