Football: Di Canio Arrival Ask Questions of Sunderland, Political Considerations When Hiring


Paolo Di Canio. A footballer who is never far from controversy - from his 'assault' on referee, through refusing to score an open goal when an opponent was injured, fascist salutes and fines.

Yet it is abundantly clear that he is probably the right man to guide Sunderland from the brink of relegation to safety and onwards. His record at Swindon over the last 21 months assures us of that. Whether the same will hold true with the benefit of hindsigth remains to be seen.

What is more interesting than the purely football matters is the controversy that has blown up around his appointment.

Di Canio is suspected of being a Fascist - there are strong indications that he shares ultra right wing views with some of the supporters of one of his former clubs, Lazio. There are also claims that Di Canio is rascist, although these seem rather less likely.

It is the former issue that is currently driving the turmoil though. David Milliband, until recently a senior member of the House of Parliament, has resigned his position with Sunderland following Di Canio's appointment. The Durham Miner's Association has demanded the return of their official banner - normally on display at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland's home stadium. Di Canio's press conferences and reports on his appointment have all focused on his political, rather than football views.

Whilst both Milliband and the Miners are right to express their opposition to the appointment in this way, the press focus on political issues crosses boundaries. Di Canio has never been associated with any illegal movements and has a right to hold his own political views. An employer should not have to consider the political leanings of an applicant when considering their suitability for a job, unless that is a key part of the role on offer. For a football manager they absolutely are not.

However much we abhor the ideals and goals of Fascist politics, the law does not preclude individuals from upholding those values. Di Canio should only be judged on his performance as a football manager, as long as he keeps his political views separated from that role of Sunderland manager.

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