The Independent London Newspaper
21st August 2014

Letters

Di Canio too dark a shade of grey

Published: 4 April, 2013
by TONY DALLAS

Tony Dallas talks sport… and with more than 20 years working as a sports development officer he knows what he’s on about FIRST, I question the sanity of the Sunderland board for employing a manager at such a late stage in the season, a man who has very little top flight managing experience.

Paolo Di Canio hasn’t even managed in the Championship let alone the Premier League!

Add to that his much-publicised political allegiances and the reported accusations of a midnight raid at his old Swindon offices, and you have to ask if the appointment of Di Canio is a recipe for disaster at the Stadium of Light!

More than 250 people died and a thousand were injured by Nazi bombers in Sunderland during the Second World War so it’s no surprise that some fans are far from happy.

David Miliband’s gesture of resigning his vice-chairman’s post at Sunderland was the only one his political position could afford.

Although travelling to matches from his new job as head of a charity in New York would most certainly have compromised his carbon footprint.

Why are there so many grey areas in football?

Here stands a football manager who has been heavily linked to an ideology that preaches hate.

It’s right that society allows the chance for people to change.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Di Canio released a statement reading: “I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism.”

But the two photographs I’ve seen of him doing Nazi-style salutes cannot be misread or misinterpreted. Like my granny used to say, “once is a mistake, twice is habit”.

I believe our silence condones the continual undermining of sections of society from within the game.

Racism, sexism, homophobia – these are things we should be actively erasing from the grounds we go to and the only way that happens is if we speak up.

How is it that in 57 per cent of Brighton & Hove Albion’s games the clubs fans have been the subject of derogatory and homophobic chanting and yet the crime has gone unpunished?

Surely this should be a priority?

I’m reminded that it was 1998 when Justin Fashanu took his own life.

Yet we could argue that homophobia is still as prevalent in the game today as it was then.

Nowhere else but in a football stadium or, indeed, at a secret rally could the abuse suffered by ethnic minorities, women, people with a disability and gay or bi-sexual supporters go unpunished.

It’s time for decent fans and people from all sections of society to say enough is enough!

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