After a torrid season (relegated 41 points off 46 games with -22 goal difference) Swindon Town FC have put the icing on the cake by appointing a fascist (in his own words) as a manager. Paolo Di Canio is an ex-Italian footballer with well documented fascist views and an admiration for Mussolini.
Di Canio, in his autobiography, praised Mussolini as “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood”. He has the word “Dux”, the Latin equivalent of “Duce”, tattooed on his arm. In our fight to remove far-right politics out of league football this is an unwelcome step in the wrong direction for Swindon.
I do not need to write about the well documented atrocities that happened under Mussolini’s rule. The routine use of executions, torture and oppression has left a lasting legacy in Italy and beyond. For a club to think that they can separate themselves off from such a history is both naïve and insensitive.
The GMB Unions cutting of any financial link with the club is clear condemnation of the two-year long contract awarded to Di Canio. Andy Newman, the GMB’s Swindon branch secretary, said: ‘We have decided to end our sponsorship deal with Swindon Town, we will not be renewing our agreement with them. Because we are a trade union we could not be seen to have a financial relationship with a club that has fascist manager. We have no choice. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.’
This move is welcome as it highlights the unacceptable nature of Di Canio’s appointment whilst hitting the club in the one place that the board cares about, the wallet.
This is why I am calling on all Swindon Town fans to boycott all matches between now and Di Canio’s inevitable dismissal. The only thing a clubs board will listen to is falling gate sales. It is not acceptable for a club to appoint someone with such despicable views. The message has to come from the supporters. Sack him for the reputation of the club.
I believe that the clubs decision to appoint Di Canio directly contradicts their club’s charter which states, “Swindon Town FC will not tolerate sexual or racially based harassment or other discriminatory behaviour, whether physical or verbal, and will work to ensure such action is met with appropriate action”. They have essentially managed to give tacit institutional support to discriminatory behaviour. This cannot be accepted.