Sunderland is nothing like Lisbon nor Portugal and its Stadium of Light is named after a miner's lamp, since it was built onthe disused Wearmouth Colliery and coal mine a few years ago on Wearside in England's North-East. A miners Davy lamp sits outside the entrance.
The city was bombed during World War ll by the Luftwaffe and many local men fought and died during that conflict. The appointment was not received with glee by many young or old supporters.
To bring in an admitted fascist to replace the affable Irishman Martin O'Neill was to bring as bad publicity as possible upon The Black Cats in their quest for survival in the EPL. Paulo Di Canio made lots of news and enemies in the lower leagues with Swindon Town, but the Premiership is a world wide brand with enormous international and nation prestige and brand awareness.
His press conference at the Academy of Light did not go down very well, with a comic and sad atmosphere which the female press officer could not control. The Italian Fascist Party is banned at home but the Roman salute persists and is used by fans of SS Lazio. Di Canio raised his right hand to Lazios ultras in 2005 and their neo Nazi banners and flags are paraded in the Curva Nord at Stadio Olimpico.
Mussolin's grand daughter Alessandra Mussolini applauded his action. She was a member of The European Parliament as a representative of the far right Social Action party, and is now a member of Italy's Chamber of Deputies.The stadiumws was built by Mussolini. I was present there at the athletics events at the Rome Olympics in 1960, and at the FIFA World Cup Final in 1990.
Lazio have already been fined $230,000 for racist abuse during matches against Spurs and Maribor of Slovenia.
" I will always salute as I did because it gives me a sense of belonging with my people... a sign of belonging to a group that holds real value.". REALLY ??? How about one of the tatoos on his right arm? DUX, the Latin for the Italian IL DUCE, as Benito Mussolini was called, before he was strung up from a lamp post next to a petrol station in Milan with his mistress in 1945.
David Milliband the former Labour Foreign Secretary was being paid about $120.000.00 a year by Sunderland to promote its brand at home, but mostly abroad in his spare time!. He resigned from that lucractive part time job, and as board member of Sunderland AFC immediatley after the Di Canio appointment.. Some would say that it was an excuse since he is giving up his seat in Parliament to accept a much more lucrative post as head of a charity in New York, which pays over $350,000 a year - and I would assume big benefits and seats up front in planes.
On the front of their red and white stripped jerseys is the message INVEST IN AFRICA and last Saturday, just prior to O'Neill being told by phone to shove off, there was a NELSON MANDELA DAY in town to celebrate a new partnership with The Mandela Fund. GREAT TIMING !!!
The Italian would not answer questions about his current view of Fascism at the press conference. " I don't want to talk about politics. I'm not in The Houses of Parliament. I am not a political person. I will only talk about football". With that he left his seat and stormed off.
Opened in 1997 after the former home Roker Park was deemed not fit for purpose or expansion, it was built by the same company that built AMSTERDAM ARENA for AFC AJAX. It has a capacity of 49,000 and has won awards for its multi-purpose use. It holds the annual Sunderland University graduation ceremony and many concerts by such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Pet Shop Boys, Cold Play and Red Hot Chil Peppers. Who can say that Wearside lacks culture??? IF NOT COMMON SENSE !!!
The local miner's association has asked for the return of their banner which hangs in the Stadium of Light. Sunderland AFC have been a model of rejecting intolerance and reaching out to their fans but I seem to remember when the F.A. used the then new stadium in 2003 for an England v Turkey EURO 2004 qualifying international match that there were many arrests and fighting and racist chants by so called England supporters, and it has not been deemed fit for further matches since.