Thursday, 4 April 2013

Paolo Di Canio - Politics and Football

Di Canio first came to the UK and joined Celtic in Glasgow. When discussing political beliefs in football Glasgow is perhaps the most political football city in the world, having over a hundred years of football steeped in the history of sectarianism and Irish politics. This has taken the form of chanting, singing, fighting, parading and even murder. So it seems like an appropriate place to look at how important politics are in football and should individually held beliefs matter?

Di Canio was found guilty of using a Nazi salute to the crowd at a game for Lazio and afterwards was quoted as saying he was a fascist but not a racist. Di Canio denies this and says he was misquoted, he also began his career at Sunderland saying he would not talk about politics but would rather discuss football matters. The press have created a huge furore over his supposed political beliefs and the resignation of Miliband from the board at Sunderland was an example of overreaction at its worst. I'm pretty sure the guy isn't going to start preaching fascist material in the weekly match day programme, in fact I am certain he is likely to never mention the word again. What it shows us is that people are all too often judged for thoughts, how many other EPL managers are likely to be asked about their political or social beliefs, given the huge salaries most of them command I can't see them representing the same political allegiances most of their fans do, especially in the North of the country. So why the witch hunt for this one guy? Partly it is because everyone is sick of the merry go round of managers, Martin O'Neill is a proven manager with terrific record so the issues at Sunderland are unlikely to be fixed by a relative novice in the manager stakes. But I also believe that we have perhaps gone to far in trying to monitor what beliefs people hold, if he was to begin preaching or trying to convert fans to his beliefs then would be the time to act but to criticise him not to do with his ability at his job but rather something he did as a younger man and has already said was incorrectly reported on is ridiculous. So for once rather than the media try to further add fuel to the political fire in Football can we all just calm down and see what he does over the remainder of the season.

So lets celebrate Di Canio as a footballer. Not only was he a master at skill, he also showed the world what sportsmanship is on more than one occasion. He is likely to fail in keeping up Sunderland who without their main scorer and captain are likely to be relegated to the championship.

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