Wednesday 3 April 2013

Paolo Di Canio - The Fascist?

It's funny that when Paolo Di Canio was managing Swindon Town nobody was interested in his political views.

As soon as he moves to Sunderland and the over hyped world of the Premier League, everyone wants to know whether he's a Fascist or not.

It's been a PR disaster for both Sunderland and Di Canio, but the question is: Should his political views have any bearing or influence on his ability to manager a football club?

Since the end of World War 2 Fascism has become a discredited political movement in many European Countries, but it doesn't mean that extreme Far right views aren't popular on the continent.

Anyone who knows anything about Italy and Italian society will know that politics is far more extreme and polarised than here in the UK. This polarisation is found in Italian football.

Many Italian football clubs have political leanings, with clubs having fans that lean either to the Left or the Right of the political spectrum.

Roma and Livorno for example are known as a Left wing clubs, while the likes of Lazio and Verona have long been associated with far right and Fascist elements. It's something we don't see in English football.

I've recently finished reading the book Calcio by John Foot. It's the definitive guide to Italian football.

When it comes to Lazio, he talks about how many of its leading players in the early 1970s were self confessed Fascists.

It's not really a surprise when you consider that Fascist politicians and political views were still prevalent in Italian society, years after the end of the Second World War and Mussolini's dictatorship.

I don't think Di Canio's political views are out of the ordinary when it comes to how things are in Italy.

Do I think Di Canio is a Fascist? Probably not.

I think when he gave his his Roman salute in a Rome derby it was the equivalent of 'kissing the badge'. He was showing his affinity and loyalty to Lazio's Ultras (hardcore Lazio fans).

Showing that he was one of them, which he is. He's from Rome and group up and supported the club as a teenager.

What I do think and have little doubt, is that Di Canio's politics are to the right of most moderate people. I'd argue he's a right wing authoritarian.

If you're a right wing authoritarian and you make the next logical step to the right on the political spectrum you end up at Fascism.

Unsurprisingly there will be elements of Fascism and authoritarian rule that will appeal to you. I think this is the case with Di Canio.

The problem he has is that Fascism is a discredited political belief - it's beyond the pale politically when it comes to mainstream politics.

Nobody can come out and claim to be a Fascist and still hold a prominent public role. This is why it would be better for Di Canio to come out and actively denounce Fascism and its beliefs.

In doing so he might bring an end to this controversy.

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