Now David Miliband quits Sunderland football club: Outgoing MP resigns over new manager's fascist views
Di Canio was once fined by Fifa for making fascist salute to Lazio fans
Black Cats appoint former Swindon boss to replace Martin O'Neill
Daily Mail Reporter
00:34 GMT, 1 April 2013
07:35 GMT, 1 April 2013
David Miliband last night said he was quitting his lucrative directorship of Premier League side Sunderland after it hired a manager with fascist views.
The former Labour foreign secretary announced last week he was leaving the country to head an international charity in New York.
He said he was stepping down from his job as Labour MP for South Shields but he did not say he was resigning from the board at Sunderland, a part-time position.
David Miliband, right, seen in the stands at the Stadium of Light for Saturday's game against Manchester United, resigned his Sunderland directorship yesterday after the appointment of Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio was fined by Fifa for making a fascist salute to fans while playing for Italian club Lazio
Mr Miliband joined the Wearside club in February 2011. Since then he has earned 125,000 for just 15 days of work.
However, the appointment of self-confessed fascist Paolo Di Canio did not find favour with the MP.
Di Canio was fined by Fifa for making a fascist salute while playing for Rome club Lazio.
In a statement on his website, Mr Miliband said: 'I wish Sunderland AFC all the success in the future. It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games.
'However, in the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.'
As a boy, Di Canio was a junior member of the 'ultras', or extreme supporters, of Lazio, which was founded by Italian army officers in 1900 and reportedly has a tattoo of Mussolini, who supported the club.
He praised Italy’s former fascist dictator in his autobiography as 'basically a very principled, ethical individual'.
Done deal: Di Canio leaves the Stadium of Light after talks yesterday
His appointment as Martin O'Neill's replacement also has upset some fans of Sunderland who are proud of the club’s working class and socialist
background. The Stadium of Light was built on the last Wearside pit and
has close associations with the remaining miners’ lodges in the region.
When Di Canio made the fascist salute in 1995, Mussolini’s granddaughter Alessandra said: 'What a delightful Roman salute! I was deeply moved.'
Di Canio, a former striker for West Ham said after the incident to Italian news agency ANSA in 2005: 'I am a fascist, not a racist.'