Watch Sunderland players training with their new manager Paolo Di Canio:
Paolo Di Canio insisted he was focussing on football rather than politics as he faced the media following his appointment as Sunderland boss.
He refused to answer questions about whether or not he is a fascist, as scrutiny over his political views continues.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, which has a partnership with Sunderland AFC, has released a statement reaffirming its relationship with the club in light of Paolo Di Canio's appointment. The statement reads:
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the management of Sunderland Football Club met in England on Monday to discuss the public debates around Sunderland’s new coach. Mr Di Canio participated in the meeting ...
At the heart of the partnership is a commitment to our Founder’s values with a special focus on human rights and anti racism.
At the meeting on Monday Sunderland reaffirmed its commitment to these values and the ethos of the partnership.
It must be stressed that the Centre’s relationship is with the club, not with any individual in the club.
The organisation, which promotes the legacy of Nelson Mandela, formed a partnership with Sunderland last month.
The club has organised several fundraising events for its benefit, and plans to "utilise" its knowledge to "support football’s quest to eradicate racism".
Paolo Di Canio faced tough questions about his political views as he faced the media for the first time since taking over as Sunderland boss.
In a stormy news conference the 44-year-old Italian was asked on several occasions if he was a fascist but did not respond.
He told reporters: "We are in a football club and not in the House of Parliament. I'm not a political person, I will talk about only football."
Sunderland fans have had a mixed reaction to Paolo Di Canio's appointment as head coach. Some, like Rob Johnson, said they would boycott the club while he remains in post:
Words can hardly express how sickened and ashamed I am by the appointment of Paolo Di Canio as our new manager.
Lest we forget, during WW2 267 people were killed and over 1000 wounded in Sunderland by Nazi bombers.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, I find myself questioning whether I can continue to support our great club in the way I have done over the years.
I am sickened by our appointment of Paolo Di Canio.
Others felt Di Canio should be believed when he said his words had been twisted, and urged fellow fans to judge him by his results on the pitch:
Let Paolo Di Canio do his job of turning round a sinking ship and judge him on his ability to motivate the team and avoid relegation.
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.