UPDATE: It’s official.
English Premiership side Sunderland AFC is considering hiring Paolo Di Canio to be its new manager. Di Canio would replace Martin O’Neill, who was turfed after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United.
Providing negotiations proceed smoothly, club officials hope to announce his appointment on Monday morning. It remains unclear whether he will be hired on a short-term, seven-game deal or a longer contract.
The 44-year-old Italian represents an intriguing choice on the part of Sunderland’s wealthy American owner. Although Di Canio lacks Premier League managerial experience, he enjoyed an impressive 22-month stint in charge of Swindon after being appointed in May 2011.
Here’s a picture of Di Canio from his playing days.
Wait – what?
The hell. No way.
What the goose-stepping motherfuck?
It’s true. Not only is Di Canio a fascist, he’s rather out and loud and proud about it. He’s gotten into hot water for his pro-ultra antics in the past (“ultra” is the term for European football’s rabid right-wing supporters, and those at Di Canio’s home club, Lazio, are among the continent’s more virulent), having drawn fines and a suspension and, in the case of his last employer, Swindon Town, causing a key sponsor to sever ties with his club.
Now, lest you get the wrong idea about di Canio, understand one key fact. According to him:
I am a fascist, not a racist.
Oh, well that’s diff…wait, back up.
“I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a ‘camerata’ to ‘camerati’,” he said, carefully using the Italian words for members of Mussolini’s fascist movement.
“The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don’t want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred,” he said.
Ummm. So, di Canio is one of those Rainbow Coalition/diversity advocate fascists we’ve been hearing about? Is it possible to be fascist without being racist? Well, if you read what there is to be found on the subject of di Canio and racism, you come away with a picture that’s … conflicted? Is that the right word? He says he’s hanging onto his own ideas, but thinks that maybe all the violence was wrong. Or something.
Anyhow, di Canio is up for the Sunderland job. And Sunderland is in somewhat desperate straits. With seven matches to play, the Black Cats are a scant one point clear of the relegation zone, and being dumped down to the second tier would have grave financial consequences for the club. The stress is apparently leading their front office to consider … extreme measures?
And about that front office. Turns out the team’s owner is one Ellis Short. Short is, of all things, an American (albeit an American who has lived in the UK for more than a decade). He seems to be an almost pathologically private sort; just for fun, go Googling – it’s remarkable how little is out there on the guy, considering he’s a multi-billionaire. One thing we do know, though: he’s the (retired?) president of Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, “a worldwide private equity firm that specializes in purchasing distressed companies and assets, and also purchases under-performing and non-performing loans from banks (the company has been active in Germany in purchasing such loans).”
So, to summarize: a hyper-secretive Red State billionaire is set to hire an avowed fascist (but not a racist one) to save his football club from a financially damaging relegation.
Look, you know me. I hate to politicize things. But … we’re talking about a goddamned fascist. You know, World War II, concentration camps, the whole nine yards. Imagine for a second that the Dallas Cowboys were in danger of finishing last and were paying a financial price for it. Imagine that Jerry Jones were to fire his coach (okay, that’s the easy part) and was set to announce, tomorrow morning, that he had hired as a replacement a guy with a swastika tattoo, who in his autobiography had written that Hitler was “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood,” and who had, on multiple occasions, stood up in front of the crowd and led them in a rousing Sieg Heil or two.
Look, I hate Jerry Jones and am capable of thinking a lot of bad things about him. But I can’t even begin to imagine this sequence of events.
There it is, though. If The Guardian is right and all goes to plan, this time tomorrow an American owner in one of the largest professional sports leagues on the planet will have retained the services of the guy in those pictures above. Boggle the fucking mind, don’t it? Newspapers have been wrong before and let’s hope this is one of those occasions, huh?