Di Canio hits back over racism claims

Updated 02 April 2013
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Di Canio hits back over racism claims

LONDON: New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has hit back at the storm of criticism over his political beliefs.
Di Canio took his first training session with Sunderland’s players yesterday following his surprise appointment as replacement for sacked boss Martin O’Neill 24 hours earlier.
But the Italian’s arrival at the Stadium of Light has already stirred controversy due to his far right-wing politics.
The former Lazio, Celtic and West Ham striker has previously admitted to having fascist leanings and in 2005 said: “I am a fascist, not a racist.”
Former British foreign secretary David Miliband immediately resigned as Sunderland’s vice-chairman and non-executive director in protest at Di Canio’s stance.
And Piara Powar, director of Football Against Racism in Europe, has called on Di Canio to soften his political beliefs to avoid setting a bad example in such a high-profile position.
But in a statement released by Sunderland on Monday, Di Canio made it clear that he was hurt by the accusations.
“I don’t have a problem with anyone. I don’t know why I have to keep repeating my story, to be defending myself on something that doesn’t belong to me every time I change clubs,” he said.
“Talk about racism? That is absolutely stupid, stupid and ridiculous.” Former Swindon chairman Jeremy Wray, who gave Di Canio his first chance in management, dismissed Miliband’s resignation as a “sad knee-jerk reaction.”
And Di Canio is adamant he doesn’t deserve to be criticized because he feels his political views have been exaggerated to create a negative impression of him.
“What I can say is that if someone is hurt, I am sorry. But this didn’t come from me — it came from a big story that people put out in a different way to what it was,” he said.
“The people who know me can change that idea quickly. When I was in England my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager — they can tell you everything about my character.
“I don’t want to talk about politics because it’s not my area. We are not in the Houses of Parliament, we are in a football club. I want to talk about sport.
“I want to talk about football, my players, the board and the fans. I don’t want to talk any more about politics — I am not a politics person.”


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 59 min 53 sec ago
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.