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Di Canio refuses to answer questions about his fascist beliefs

Former Swindon Town boss Paolo Di Canio has refused to answer questions about his facsist beliefs, after being appointed as head coach at Sunderland.

In an awkward news conference on Tuesday the 45-year-old described the controversy surrounding his appointment as "ridiculous" and "pathetic".

His appointment had already prompted former foreign secretary David Miliband to resign his post as vice-chairman and non-executive director at The Stadium of Light.

The former Labour Party leadership candidate said: "In the light of the new manager's past political statements, I think it right to step down."

Di Canio, 44, succeeds Martin O'Neill. He has agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Swindon chairman Jeremy Wray said: "I think it's a great appointment. He'll galvanise the team. If you're looking for a catalyst for change he's the right man.

"It's where's he's always wanted to manage and it's a very astute appointment."

The Black Cats sacked O'Neill on Saturday after a poor run of results that has left them just one point above the relegation zone.

Sunderland have gone eight games without a win. They have not won since their victory at Wigan on January 19.

Promotion

Di Canio was linked with the Reading vacancy following Brian McDermott's sacking, but denied he was interested in the job, which was then given to Nigel Adkins.

The former Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Lazio star led Swindon to promotion from League Two last season before he resigned in February with Swindon in the play-off zone.

Mark Hughes and Roberto Di Matteo had also been linked with the Sunderland vacancy.

Di Canio said recently that he was ready to manage in the Championship or Premier League.

"I have already proven my ability in League Two and League One, where there are many arrogant and average players and I was able to turn their mentality and help them become better footballers," said the Italian.

"The right place for me is the place that has the ambition and the staff who want to bring in a winning mentality.

"The club needs to have set rules, which for me are discipline, desire, passion, work ethic and a determination to get the right results to make everybody happy, namely the board, the fans and the club's players and staff.

"I believe I am at a stage now where I am a Premier League or Championship manager."

Di Canio's managerial record (prior to his Sunderland appointment)

Games: 95

Wins: 54

Draws: 18

Defeats: 23


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