Never judge a book by its cover, as well as never judge a coach by his political views
These days the news about Paolo Di Canio appointment as a coach of Sunderland met with much controversy and indignation in press. A pan-European organization Football Against Racism in Europe expressed their anxiety about the fact. Making their interviews, the reporters forgot about football and are hung up about Di Canio’s political views. Sunderland fans are even reported to have returned their season tickets for their team’s matches as a fascist took over the coaching reins! So, what’s it all about?
I looked over several sources and indeed I found the information that while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in England, Paolo Di Canio got notoriety for pushing referee Paul Alcock for sending him off. Moreover, he was closely linked with Lazio’s ultras, the group of outright fans, and made several fascist salutes to the fans as a Lazio player. And that is where the shoe pinches ))
But is the devil so black as it is painted? First, Di Canio is accused of racism, but he is not a racist. As goes from the fact of his fascist salutes and as Di Canio asserts himself, he is not a racist but is inclined to fascist ideology which are different things. His best friends from England, Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, are the vivid example that the Italian is open to all people and social and cultural background doesn’t matter for him.
Second, even though Di Canio still holds fascist ideology views – so what’s from that in football? Di Canio is not a politician, he is a football coach and he only can be accused of bad coaching. He is not in political machinery to be afraid of or scorned for and his views have nothing in common with political fascism (until they are not a crime against mankind). The results and success of the team – these are things that really matter. And I think it’s unacceptable in our modern world, which tirelessly proclaims democracy and all possible freedoms, to publicly criticize a person for his or her views and put it as a menace to his or her career.
Mass Media, as usual, thirst for sensation and often make a mountain out of a mole-hill. They get hold of a separate fact, often past its best, and make a whole big story out of it. As for Paolo Di Canio, the media forgot to notice some reputable facts concerning his professional career. For example, while playing for Sheffield Wednesday he won the FIFA Fair Play Award for his display of sportsmanship in a match against Everton as he shunned a goal scoring opportunity when the Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was lying injured on the ground. As a coach of Swindon Town, Di Canio together with about 200 volunteers worked all night on 18 January 2013, to clear a football pitch from snow ahead of the clash with Shrewsbury Town. Finishing the work, he ordered pizza for everybody. The same January, Di Canio was ready to pay from his own money to keep loan players at the club as Swindon faced financial difficulties.