Di Canio: I don't support fascism

After three days of intense public pressure, the new Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio has insisted: "I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism." He had refused to say if he was a fascist during a news conference yesterday.

Latest ITV News reports

Paolo Di Canio refuses to say whether he is still a fascist

Asked whether he still considers himself a fascist, Paolo Di Canio says: "I don't have to answer any more this question, there was a very good statement from the club".

"I don't want to talk any more about politics ... I'm not in the House of Parliament," he adds.

A press officer is cutting off any further questions on the subject.

Read: Di Canio calls claims of racism 'stupid and ridiculous'

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Paolo Di Canio thought offer of job was a 'joke'

by - ITV News Correspondent

Reporters at the Paolo Di Canio press conference were given strict instructions that we would only answer questions about football.

Di Canio says he initially thought the phonecall in which he was offered the job was a "joke".

Now he says he has passion and focus, and doesn't care about the headlines in the press. He said he would bet "everything he has" on the club staying up.

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Paolo Di Canio to be unveiled as new Sunderland boss

Paolo Di Canio is to be unveiled as the new head coach at Sunderland at a press conference this morning. The announcement of his appointment prompted David Miliband to quit his role at the football club, citing the Italian's "past political statements".

Paolo Di Canio was photographed at the Stadium of Light during a visit on Monday. Credit: Twitter/@SAFC

Following Miliband's departure, Di Canio, who was reported to have said he was a fascist and appeared to give an open-handed salute while playing for Italian side Lazio in 2005, denied he was a racist and said his comments were taken out of context.

Durham Miners' Association wades into Di Canio row

The Durham Miners' Association has waded into the row over the appointment of Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland head coach.

Dave Hopper, general secretary of the association, said he was writing to the football club to demand the return of the Wearmouth Miners' Banner, which is on permanent display at the Stadium of Light, in protest at the decision to appoint Di Canio.

Paolo Di Canio has been appointed Sunderland head coach. Credit: Press Association

Mr Hopper, who worked for 27 years as a miner at Wearmouth Colliery, the site on which the Stadium of Light stands, described Di Canio's appointment as "an outrage" and "a betrayal of all those who fought and died fighting fascism."

In a statement on the association's website, referring to club chairman Ellis Short, he continued: "Everyone must speak out and oppose this outrage and call on Ellis Short and the Sunderland Board to reverse their decision."

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