NEW Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio refused to confirm or deny whether he was a fascist today as the furore over the new Sunderland manager's political views intensified.
The 44-year-old Italian was asked if he was a fascist on several occasions at a news conference today but did not directly respond, even though he was clearly angered by the questioning and the briefing was abruptly ended.
Di Canio previously stated in a 2005 interview with an Italian news agency to being "a fascist, but not a racist", and his apparent political leanings have already led to the resignation of the club's vice-chairman David Miliband, Labour MP for South Shields and a former foreign secretary.
Di Canio said this morning: "I don't have to answer any more this question. There was a very good statement from the club, (with) very, very clear words that came out from me.
"My life speaks for me so there is no need to speak any more about this situation because it's ridiculous and pathetic.
"I can't every two weeks, every two months, every 10 months answer the same questions that are not really in my area.
"We are in a football club and not in the House of Parliament.
"I'm not a political person, I will talk about only football."
Di Canio has been pictured making a fascist salute to Lazio fans in the past and the Durham Miners' Association has asked the club to return a symbolic banner which is kept at the Stadium of Light if Di Canio remains in his post, describing his appointment as a "betrayal and a disgrace".
Asked today if he had a message for the association, Di Canio said: "I have said many, many words in the past and people have picked the words they wanted, I can't keep going on about my life and my family.
"The people who are talking in this way, they don't understand Paolo Di Canio.
"I don't understand this problem. I am a manager, I'm a normal man, I'm a family man.
"The words sometimes fly away, what counts in life is the facts, who you are, what you are doing, what you did in the past so I think that should be enough and that they will be happy one day."
Di Canio released a statement yesterday which he hoped would clarify his views, in which he said: "I expressed an opinion in an interview many years ago. Some pieces were taken for media convenience.
"They took my expression in a very, very negative way - but it was a long conversation and a long interview. It was not fair. Sometimes it suits their purpose to put big headlines and a big story.
"When I was in England (as a player) my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager - they can tell you everything about my character.
"Talk about racism? That is absolutely stupid, stupid and ridiculous."
Sunderland announced today that four coaches who worked under Di Canio at Swindon are joining him on Wearside - first-team coach Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physiotherapist/masseur Giulio Viscardi.
Sunderland confirmed that Steve Walford, Steve Guppy, Jim Henry and Seamus McDonagh, who worked under Martin O'Neill have left the club.
A Sunderland statement said: "The club would like to place on record its thanks for their hard work.