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The new Sunderland manager has previously given the Roman salute to supporters while playing for Lazio and described himself as a "fascist, not a racist" in 2005

Football Against Racism in Europe director Piara Powar has expressed alarm at the appointment of Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland manager given that the Italian has previously described himself as a fascist.

After being punished by Italian authorities in 2005 for giving a Roman salute to Lazio fans, Di Canio told Italian news agency ANSA that he was "a fascist, not a racist".

Powar is concerned by the potential influence of the former West Ham striker's political positions as a Premier League manager and has asked Di Canio to clarify his views.

"When there is a rise of intolerance and there is a coach in the Premier League, which is the most watched league globally, who hasn't clarified or wanted to renounce his fascist views during his time in the UK, it is a worrying time," Powar said.

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"Di Canio has the opportunity to clarify his views and let us know what his approach will be and how his strongly held views will influence how he will do his job.

"I think from our perspective we would say we are seeing the rise of the far right and the intolerance and hatred that goes with that across Europe. Being a fascist is not a soft political label.

"In many way it's a political label that comes across with all sorts of dangerous ideas and ideals and that is the concern for us.

"There has been a lot gone on in football over issues of race and that gives a different focus to a manager who calls himself a fascist being appointed to a top post.

"I think there is no place in a sport which seeks to draw out positive impact on social relations and community to have someone who says 'I am a fascist'."

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