London April 2

Soccer: Di Canio refuses to 'talk politics'

Ex-Lazio striker tapped to manage Sunderland

Soccer: Di Canio refuses to 'talk politics'

London April 2 - Ex-Lazio striker and formerly self-tagged Fascist Paolo Di Canio, who was made team manager of English soccer team Sunderland over the weekend, told the press on Tuesday that would not discuss his politics. Controversy erupted when Di Canio replaced team manager Martin O'Neill, causing former British foreign secretary David Miliband to step down as vice-chairman of the team. When asked about his current politics on Tuesday, Di Canio responded "I don't have to answer this question any more". "I don't want to talk about politics. I'm not in the Houses of Parliament, I'm not a political person, I will only talk about football," Di Canio said. The former West Ham striker who admitted in the past to having Fascist leanings told ANSA in 2005 that he was "a Fascist, not a racist". Di Canio was fined by the international football federation FIFA twice in 2005 for giving the straight-arm salute used by Fascists. The 44-year-old retired striker first went to Britain as a player in 1996 joining Celtic, then played for Glasgow, West Ham and Charlton. As a player, Di Canio's rebellious spirit often caused him problems with coaches and officials. In 1999 he was banned for 11 matches and fined £100,000 for pushing over a referee. But two years later British fans saw a very different side to Di Canio's character, when he opted to catch the ball rather than shoot during a league match for West Ham, because the opposition goalkeeper was on the ground injured. The gesture won him the 2001 FIFA Fair Play award.

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