Tuesday, 2 April 2013

An Open Letter to Paolo di Canio

Dear Paulo di Canio
 
We have never met, and I am the first to admit that I don't know very much about football. You do, and I respect that. However, I hope you will allow me to say something about your appointment as manager at Sunderland FC as personally as I can.
 
My relationship with the Black Cats goes back a long way. I married into a family of fervent lifelong Sunderland supporters.  My wife and I got engaged on Cup Final Day 1973, figuring that if Sunderland won her father would say yes to anything and if they lost, he would be past caring.  All these years we have wanted SAFC to do well. We have been glad when it did, and sad when it didn't. We know how much its football success has meant for the people of Sunderland and the North East who are rightly proud of your new Club.  
 
But today I am wondering what to do. Your appointment raises very difficult questions. You see, I am the child of a Jewish war refugee who got out of Germany and came to Britain just in time. Some of her family and friends perished in the Nazi death camps. So I find your self-confessed fascism deeply troubling. Fascism was nearly the undoing of the world. It cost millions of innocent lives. Mussolini, who you say has been deeply misunderstood, openly colluded with it.  You are said to wear a tattoo DUX which speaks for itself. This all adds up to what I find baffling. 
 
You say that you are not a racist, but it needs great sophistication to understand how fascism and racism are ultimately different.  I can promise you that this distinction will be lost on the people of the North East where the British National Party is finding fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of its pernicious and poisonous doctrine.  You did not necessarily know this before you came.  But I believe that unless you clearly renounce fascism in all its manifestations, you will be associated with these toxic far-right tendencies we have seen too much of in this region.
 
At your press conference today, you had the chance to do this, to say in so many words that you have been misunderstood (just as you say Mussolini was).  You were asked where you stood on fascism, but declined to give an unambiguous response.  One sentence is all that it would have taken.  I’m genuinely perplexed as to why you didn’t take the opportunity that was handed to you. Maybe your minders told you to stay on-message.  But don't you see that it is no answer to plead that this press call was about football, not politics.  Where a Premier League club is concerned, you can’t ever separate the two. Politics and high-profile sport, like religion, are about the whole of life.  Football is deeply political. To say otherwise may be convenient, but it's na├»ve.
 
Premier League players and managers are big role-models for the young.  Is fascism what you or Sunderland FC want our children and teenagers to admire and emulate?  And if this doesn’t trouble you personally, should it not trouble those who appointed you?  The Club now stands to suffer loss of support as well as see its standing and respect damaged not just in this part of the world but internationally. Its reputation has been hard won. I am just one of thousands who would be sad to see it squandered.
 
So there it is. Please tell me how to go on supporting the Black Cats with a good conscience, even from the sofa, because believe me, I want to. Please tell me that I have misunderstood, or missed some fundamental issue here. I am simply telling you with a heavy heart that it feels hard at the moment to stay loyal.
 
Yours sincerely,
Michael Sadgrove
 

20 comments:

  1. Absolute garbage. You are writing a letter, demanding that Paolo Di Canio dispel his beliefs and discuss his political thoughts.

    Do you not see the hypocrisy, if you are so against Di Canio's "fascist" beliefs? It's so blatant I can smell it from here.

    Just because you are a Jew doesn't mean you can throw such accusations and demands about. You're a clown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  2. disgrace his appointment must be desperate ..what the hell is he doing in that job ?? he's done Nazi Salutes .. bloody hell how did they let that slip #laughingstock

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dude isn't an English word

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Learn English" takes away from any valid argument you may have against this comment. The letter is far from garbage. It's a sincere letter coming from a standpoint of trying to understand Paolo despite an evident disapproval of his previous actions. This is in stark contrast to the underlying message of the comment's writer, which is one of anger and dismissal. History weighs heavy on the word fascism, so it's not a word that can be used lightly unlike, say neo-conservatism. You only need to look at Greece where the fascistic Golden Dawn have transitioned from fringe political party to 3rd most popular political party to see that extremist political stances are relevant today and cannot be dismissed.

    Paolo Di Canio is welcome to his beliefs but this must exclude his appointment as manager of an entity invested so much in the public such as Sunderland AFC. Perhaps instead he could find work as a disgraced historian or an end-of-pier comedian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, I am a great defender of free speech, but society has a right to judge your speech and make decisions based on what you say and believe.

      Not religious at all but very interested in this topic and would like to thank the Dean for such a thoughtful and carefully considered letter.

      Delete
  5. Like it or not, as R.G. Price sustains, Fascism "was a movement that gained its support from a growing religious sentiment among the public. It is not so much a case of what certain fascist leaders believed, it was more a case of what it was that the public wanted from their leadership and the ways in which those leaders gave the public what they wanted. What the people wanted was a religious experience and they wanted to feel a close bond between Church and State, and thus the fascist leaders identified with religious feelings in the community and used it to their advantage." At which point one may ask: were the ideas at fault or the leaders dishonest? There are obvious parallels with Communist and Stalin.

    In any event, did Di Canio study Fascism? Or did he simply believe it to be an affirmation of "traditional values": such as "machismo" (the salute on the pitch), family values, RELIGIOUS FAITH, patriotism, social structure, honour, and traditional hard work? It could be argued that it was naive of him, perhaps.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This interview from a while back might help the good dean come to terms with his angst:

    Paolo di Canio: 'My life speaks for itself"

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/paolo-di-canio-my-life-speaks-for-me-6273526.html

    Perhaps rather than say Sunderland supporters are too thick to understand how a childhood supporter of Lazio from the slums of Rome might say "I'm a Fascist" is rather dismissive of you. They might understand it rather better than a well-educated, armchair fan in a nice house in Durham.

    ReplyDelete
  8. As the "Very Revered" head of the Diocese of Durham can you please tell me what your views are on William The Conquerer... or William The Bastard as he is also referred to ?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm afraid you've made a slapdash confusion between Fascism and Naziism, which were quite different. Would you be equally critical of Di Canio if he held Far Left views, of the type associated (in their extreme forms) with Stalin and Mao? Hitler, after all, was a "national socialist"...

    Frankly, this seems like an "I'm trendy and PC too" follow-up to Milliband.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a more balanced view, the answer would be no however. Quite right also to point out "Nazism" is not the same as Fascism.

      Delete
  10. Really ? My father was ordained in Durham Cathedral, I've grown up a Black Cat, driven thousands and thousands of miles supporting a club in a town down on it's luck and in the shadow of its neighbour. Not sure why the church thinks for one second why it has a place in this. I am asking why you're relevant in the same breath as pointing out I live in Wiltshire where Paulo Di Canio turned the spirits and beliefs of a town much like my hometown of Sunderland around and made people proud. He walked his team out at Wembley, managed in an era unprecedented in free media access and spread of data yet nobody gave one iota about past lives.

    The Church - in the North East - is sadly less relevant than it was three decades ago for whatever reason. I was baptised and grew up in the Cathedral watched my father give 20 years service to the diocese and love every minute of it. As a former professional footballer and also a man of God I think he'd be rolling his eyes and wondering why you thought it relevant to stick your head above the parapets and to get involved when really all you've done is give column inches your local community can do without.

    It is NOT the place of the Church of England to ask for anyone to publically make statements of political belief. I do wonder why you think the Synod or the Diocese would back you in entering a row that will just sadly dwindle your congregation more and prove yet further a gap between the public of the North East who need a Messiah more than ever. Sadly the last meaningful Messiah of any credibility in the Durham catchment area didn't come from Galilee but wore a tracksuit at Wembley one cold but amazing May afternoon in 1973.

    He'd be furious with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  11. I wish the bishop of Durham had spoken about the child abuse and all the other abuses the churches are guilty of ....It seems to me that all the churches have many many many hhorror stories to tell but is swept under the carpet. Lets talk about these issues.I believe in GOD but not in these annointed hypocrites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the Dean not the Bishop. There is no current Bishop of Durham. The last one left to become the Archbishop of Canterbury! Hope you are not local to Durham! This is common knowledge

      Delete
  12. "I can promise you that this distinction will be lost on the people of the North East where the British National Party is finding fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of its pernicious and poisonous doctrine."

    Wow, what a breathtaking sentence. Unlucky plebs, if this guy doesn't understand it, there's no hope for you! An erudite example of the regard with which you hold the North East.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for taking a stand and issuing a faith-based challenge to fascism. Pay no mind to the apologists and enablers of fascism - the fact that you elicit their ire is very telling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you. This was a well-considered and Christian response to a serious issue. I see no necessity for the insults and spittle of the baying multitude.

      Delete