SUNDERLAND’S new head coach Paolo Di Canio says he “does not support the ideology of fascism”.
The Italian’s appointment has caused controversy due to comments he is said to have made in 2005 after making a Nazi-style salute while playing for Lazio.
He has so far refused to answer questions about whether he is a fascist, but he has now released a statement through Sunderland AFC.
The former Swindon Town manager said: “I have clearly stated that I do not wish to speak about matters other than football, however, I have been deeply hurt by the attacks on the football club.
“This is a historic, proud and ethical club and to read and hear some of the vicious and personal accusations is painful. I am an honest man, my values and principles come from my family and my upbringing.
“I feel that I should not have to continually justify myself to people who do not understand this, however I will say one thing only - I am not the man that some people like to portray.
“I am not political, I do not affiliate myself to any organisation, I am not a racist and I do not support the ideology of fascism. I respect everyone.
“I am a football man and this and my family are my focus. Now I will speak only of football.”