Sunderland boss accepts fine for Arsenal red card

Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio, left, is sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson

Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio, left, is sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson

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PAOLO DI CANIO says his decision to accept an FA fine this week was the “responsible” one to make.

The Sunderland head coach was charged with improper conduct on Monday after being sent to the stands in last weekend’s defeat to Arsenal for protesting with referee Martin Atkinson.

But instead of contesting the charge - and potentially risking a touchline ban for this Saturday’s crunch basement clash at West Brom - Di Canio immediately accepted it and the accompanying £8,000 fine.

Di Canio said: “If you fight your case and try to defend yourself, you will only get worse (punishment) if you lose.

“People who know me know that I never give up fighting for justice all through my life, but I also have to be responsible.

“I have not burnt my dignity by accepting (the fine) because it is for the club and for the players, because I want to stay there (on the touchline) next to them.

“For me, the money was not the issue – if the fine had been £100,000 instead of £8,000, I would have paid it to stay in the dugout.

“I want to be there (in the dugout) and that was the crucial thing.”

Di Canio was infuriated by Atkinson after the referee’s failure to play an advantage when Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore shrugged off Bacary Sagna and netted what would have been a second equaliser for the Black Cats.

And the Italian then lost his temper with Atkinson in stoppage time after Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud’s attempt to wind down the clock, which prompted his dismissal.

Di Canio spoke with both Atkinson and the referee’s assessor after the game, but insists he was amicable with the West Yorkshire-based official.

“I understand that the referee was under pressure, with 40,000 people booing him,” added Di Canio.

“But I wasn’t tough on him afterwards, because I did not want to make the headlines.

“I have been in trouble before for criticising referees when I was at Swindon, but this time I made sure that I stayed very calm.”