Di Canio appointment angers miners officials

CAN HE DO IT?: Paolo Di Canio begins his rescue mission
CAN HE DO IT?: Paolo Di Canio begins his rescue mission

ANGRY miners officials are demanding the removal of a pit banner from Sunderland Football Club in protest over their new manager.

The demand has come from the Durham Miners’ Association after the appointment of Paolo Di Canio.

The Miners’ Association general secretary Dave Hopper, who worked at the pit which once stood on the site of the Stadium of Light, described the appointment of Di Canio as a disgrace.

He urged people to speak out and call on Ellis Short and the Sunderland board to reverse their decision.

A statement from the association said: “Dave Hopper, the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, is writing to Sunderland Football Club to demand the return of the Wearmouth Miners’ Banner, which is on permanent display in the Stadium of Light, in protest at the decision to appoint the self-confessed fascist Paolo Di Canio as their head coach.”

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

He said: ”I, like many thousands of miners, have supported Sunderland from infancy and are passionate about football. But there are principles which are much more important.

“Our banner represents the Durham miners’ long struggle for the rights of the working class, rights which were annihilated by fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain and Chile.

“We have a sacred obligation to the millions who were wiped out by Hitler, Mussolini and Franco to oppose fascism wherever and in whatever context this evil creed raises its head, particularly at a time when working people are again being forced to pay for capitalism’s crisis as they were in Europe in the 1920s and 30s.

“The appointment of Di Canio is a disgrace and a betrayal of all who fought and died in the fight against fascism.

“Everyone must speak out an oppose this outrage and call on Ellis Short and the Sunderland board to reverse their decision.”

The Italian replaced Martin O’Neill on Sunday night, with Sunderland one point above the relegation zone.

The appointment of Di Cano also led to former Foreign Secretary David Miliband leaving his job on the club board.

The new Black Cats manager moved to distance himself from the controversy in a club statement.

But that wasn’t enough to appease the miners’ association.