Boycotting Sunderland FC is the only appropriate and moral response to their recent installation of a fascist manager

This is the final article in a short series on Social Justice First about the state of modern football.

Paulo Di Canio, a fascist (in all probability), is now sitting at the helm of one of Britain’s most respected football clubs. The only way to remove him from such a prestigious position is for the fans to implement a boycott of the club.

For the last two years I have been calling for a boycott of Swindon Town FC – Di Canio’s former employers.

"I am not political... I do not support the ideology of fascism" - Paulo Di Canio

Few in the midst of the media scrum that followed his appointment to Sunderland commented on his two year reign at Swindon Town. Barney Ronay at the Guardian was the exception to this rule when he wroteDi Canio has been manager of Swindon for two years without complaint…there is an excellent point to be made about the lack of attention paid to events in the lower leagues.”

He was right on one count. The whole Di Canio debacle shows the unhealthy media spotlight that is shined upon the Premiership leaving the lower leagues in its shadow.

Just as the next big things can be spotted playing in the lower leagues, so the next big problem can also often be found there.

Barney was wrong however to assert that Di Canio spent two years at Swindon without complaint.

I was complaining and complaining loud.

Back in 2011 I wrote that Swindon should be embarrassed to employ a man who is a symbol of modern fascism and called for all fans to boycott the club.

I finished that article by appealing to the Swindon fans saying, “The message has to come from the supporters. Sack him for the reputation of the club.”

This message was ignored by most, if not all, Swindon fans. Could it be different for Sunderland?

At the heart of every football fan is passionate burning desire for success. Regardless of Di Canio’s politics he delivered promotion to Swindon. Success on the pitch acted to numb the consciousness of many Swindon fans. Promotion enabled them to look the other way.

Although this isn’t an excuse for their silence, it does at least act as an explanation.

For Sunderland fans there is little chance of this level of success and this might act as the catalyst for his dismissal or at least a de facto boycott (drop in gate sales).

The harder question though sits with all of the non-Swindon and non-Sunderland fans. Di Canio has been a manager in the UK for over two years now; why have they not spoken out until now?

Not my club, not my problem was the most common response from non-Swindon fans that I spoke to over the last few years.

Let’s be clear though: it is our problem. Fascism has no place in a modern tolerant democracy. Fascism, by its nature, invokes a support for authoritarianism coupled with a questionable understanding of culture and national identity. Is this what Sunderland want in a figurehead?

This issue moves beyond just fascism though.

In a macabre game of ‘footballing extremist ideology bingo’ we are now erring towards a full house in modern football. We’ve got racists, we’ve got homophobes, and now, to complete the set, we have a self-declared fascist.

While the footballing establishment has at least started to tackle the first two problems, there remains uncertainty about how, or even if they should, tackle fascism.

Once again this is why the message needs to come from the fans that fascism has no place in the game.

Look either side of you on the terraces and you will see people who not only fought fascism but also know people who died at the hands of fascists. The horrors of the 20th century are not as far away as some think.

It pains me to have to write this, but being a fascist is not just being ‘a bit right wing’ – it is lending your tacit support to a movement that oversaw the mass death of millions.

At best Di Canio will stay quiet. At worst though, the poisonous ideology that this confused Italian extrovert follows will drip into his decisions and affect the players underneath him.

Just as Marcel Desailly would probably choose to never play for a team that Ron Atkinson managed, so I doubt any Italian with immigrant descendants would want to play for Sunderland.

For the good of British football, for the good of Sunderland FC and for all those who spent their lives fighting fascism I call on everyone to boycott the Stadium of Light until Di Canio has either renounced all aspects of fascism or left the club.


Filed under Far-right politics, Football, History, Sport

19 responses to “Boycotting Sunderland FC is the only appropriate and moral response to their recent installation of a fascist manager

  1. Pingback: Arrivederci Di Canio, Arrivederci fascism | Hynd's Blog

  2. Pingback: A letter to Paolo Di Canio | Hynd's Blog

  3. Jason Reveley

    There is already over 43,000 tickets sold for the game against Everton at the weekend. That’s 3000 more than this seasons current average ticket sales. So much for people boycotting the club. Di Canio won the derby against Newcastle which has instantly made him a hero amongst Sunderland fans. The entire away end at Newcastle was singing his name and the Stadium of Light will be rocking with the sound of his name on Saturday. Indeed I have seen people bowing to him chanting hero. We all love him up here and hope he stays for years to come. Politics and football should not mix. I think everyone who mentions his political views are just hypocrites. You talk about wanting free speech and an open society and yet you want to hide him away and not let Di Canio talk of his beliefs. To try and stop someone believing what they want and having free speech and supporting whatever they want to support sounds quite fascist to me. Either way I am in love with Paolo Di Canio. I think he will save Sunderland AFC and turn us into a top 10 club and that is all I am concerned about. We even have a new song for people like this.

    ooooo oooooo oooo
    We’ll say it slowly to you can follow,
    Fuck you media pricks and your shit politics,
    We love Sun’land and we love Paolo,
    oooooo oooooo oooo

    No one in Sunderland cares what he thinks. He isn’t a polictical person and hasn’t even voted for over a decade. Also if you look back to the original interview and read through it. You will not find the quote “i’m a fascist, not a racist” because he never actually said those words. His words were spun by the media, who would have though that.


  4. Phil Mcculley

    “Fascism has no place in a modern tolerant democracy. ”



  5. Kenny

    “In all probability” you got the clubs name wrong. Some in depth research there Steve!!!


    • You mean because I missed out the ‘Association’ bit? In the same way that lots of people from across the media do? Sorry to offend, but I think you are picking holes now


      • Kenny

        That would make them wrong as well.
        And as for picking holes “Fascism has no place in a modern tolerant democracy”. A ridiculous statement.

        “This message was ignored by most, if not all, Swindon fans. Could it be different for Sunderland?”
        Ignored because his political beliefs have nothing to do with football. So no it won’t be different at SAFC.


  6. What a load of tripe. If you want a crusade, go and do an article on the current immigrants in the UK who openly preach hate and celebrate the deaths of our soldiers who are fighting to free their homelands from oppression, don’t pick an easy target who you know wont target you.Idiot.


    • Why would I be more concerned about immigrants preaching hate than non-immigrants?

      For what it is worth, I criticize people on the basis of them preaching hate….regardless of where they were born.


  7. Gelnn76

    Did you write a blog when the BBC gave him a job? Did you stop paying your TV license until the BBC sacked him?


  8. Ron

    So you’ve met Di Canio have you? You can vouch for his character and personality can you? He’s been in English football for many years now and apart from his sometimes eccentric behaviour on the field,no one has ever flagged up any problems with him off the field,in fact he seems to be universally accepted as a good man.
    Three years ago he was invited by West Ham United to open a lounge at Upton Park to be named after him and to this day it’s sold out every match day.
    He was revered so much by the club that he followed in the footsteps of legends such as Bobby Moore,Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds to have parts of the ground named in their honour,do you think they would have done that for a man of dubious character?
    There wasn’t one iota of protest by the London based and National media at the time,now he comes to a North East club and all hell breaks loose and every tin pot bleeding heart “I’ll tell you how to think” cretin comes out from underneath their stones to protest their disgust.
    Hypocrites the lot of them,and as for the oppurtunist David Miilband who was leaving the club and Politics anyway to take up a lucrative offer in New York City he’s the biggest one of all.
    A man who belongs to a party who worshipped at the feet of his idol Tony Blair, who entered an illegal war which resulted in thousands of innocent people being bombed to death.
    Shame on them all.


  9. David

    When Sunderland AFC and Di Canio himself comes out and says he is not a fascist, who do you start believing?


  10. Phil Mcculley

    Get a grip will you. He is hardly adolf hitler is he. I find it hard to believe with all thats going on in the world, that these hacks cant just let him do his job. He isnt even the worst person to have an affect on sunderland! We buried her yesterday!!


  11. Jim P

    The problem is many football fans are so attached to their team that their teams success comes above any moral doubts they may have about things. Does it matter that he’s a fascist when his team has just won 3-0 on the ground of their most bitter rivals? Of course it does, but the majority of Swindon fans turned a blind eye because they loved his ‘passion’, his rants and the success he brought them. I’m almost certain it will be the same case with the majority at Sunderland if he gets the results the fans crave.


  12. Dave Grinter

    It’s interesting, and backs up your point about the lower leagues, that whilst at Swindon, Paolo never felt the need to say he wasn’t a fascist. In fact, he went on record as saying his views were his own and would not affect his role with the club (it did – we lost sponsorship). However, after being pushed into the national limelight of the Premier League, he has changed his views and felt the need to denounce them. He is a clever man, and works the media (at least the local and occasionally the National whilst at Swindon) really well. However, he also embarrassed himself on many occasions (Clarke, Foderingham, Tehoue, Kerrouche, Connell, arguments with the board) and came across as a pillock. I honestly think, despite the good start, he won’t save Sunderland, will leave and go back to Italy and not be seen or heard for a few years, until he pops up as West Ham manager.


    • Dave Grinter

      I should point out to those that do not know, that I am a Swindon fan. And despite some annoyances during his reign at the County Ground, I did not boycott in protest. I have lost all respect for Di Canio with how he has reacted during and since his departure (breaking into the offices, making ultimatums to a Board that did not even have control of the club and airing our dirty washing in public; as well as a certain comment “I make average players play well”) but this is due to his actions, his personality if you will, as opposed to his views and ideologies. Perhaps I should hang my head in shame, for enjoying the good times of the club riding high and looking past his crazy views, as I’m sure Sunderland fans will do so in time.


  13. David Heap

    “In all probability” is a scary phrase Steve. Dare I say condemnation by assumption? I can’t stand the man, but this makes me uneasy. And please check your copy – RON not Roy Atkinson and “immigrant forebears” not “descendants”.


    • David, In all probability, is a phrase I used to hint at the mad media scrum around “is he or isn’t he” a fascist and to suggest at what side of the debate I fell down. Of course I don’t know what he thinks, only what he and others have said and done in the past – so no, not assumption but judgement based on the probability of the evidence available.

      Oh, and thanks for pointing out mistakes!


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