Asking a Jew to objectively discuss a fascist is like having a mouse ask the neighborhood cat for help with the cheese in a trap. But let’s be as honest as possible about yesterday’s announcement from Sunderland. Yes, Paolo Di Canio is the new manager of the Black Cats. Yes, he is open about his political leanings, which happen to be of the fascist variety. Most importantly, his most publicized quote, “I’m a fascist, not a racist,” has yet to be proven wrong.
Throughout his playing years in Italy (Lazio, Juve, Napoli, Milan, Cisco Roma), Scotland (Celtic), and England (Sheffield Wed, West Ham and Charlton), Di Canio was a fan’s player. His only incidents were because he was a hot head and a generally intense personality, not because he’s a fascist, or a racist. During these years, he played with countless black players. His fascism didn’t seem to be of issue then. In the interest of the aforementioned honesty, there was a spat with Jonathan Tehoue during his tenure as manager at Swindon. The bottom line is that Di Canio is now Sunderland manager because he was successful with Swindon Town and he was hired for footballing reasons. He is being paid, probably handsomely, for preaching tactics, not politics.
People who identify as fascist are criticized by many because of the ideology’s historical role in horrible death, war, and tragedy. Totally fair. What about the players, managers, owners, or supporters of clubs who lean the opposite direction on the political spectrum? Some forget that socialism as an ideology is responsible for millions upon millions of deaths in the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia, among others. Why is it that Eric Cantona is revered for having leftist, arguably dangerous views that call for social revolutions, while Di Canio is reviled for having his own personal beliefs?
We’re not going to delve into the changes and evolution of Italian fascism from Mussolini to present day. It’s a topic I’m not well versed in and one that is irrelevant. Di Canio has labeled himself a fascist and he owns it. Until his views or beliefs harm somebody or impede them from living their life as they see fit, he can be whoever the hell he feels works for him. Many have jumped on Di Canio and Sunderland as a whole for appointing someone who doesn’t fit their ideals (I know, it’s hard to believe that individuals who have an outlet feel they can question the motives and morals of a privately owned organization). They seem to be missing the point though. They are fans of a sporting club. Their ideals should be winning, and nothing else. Di Canio’s style was described as “coaching by hand grenade,” and considering the Wearsiders have 7 games to save themselves from relegation, it sounds like exactly what they need.