You said you would remember us. But you forgot.

The Kick Racism Out of Football campaign (www.kickitout.org) has revealed that it has written to Swindon Town about the appointment of Paolo di Canio as manager.

In response to a question from me, they said that they were “Aware of opinions previously voiced by Mr Di Canio”; and, “With this in mind, we recognise concerns supporters may have about his new role as manager of Swindon Town FC”.

They go on to say that “Mr Di Canio will be aware of the zero-tolerance approach to discrimination employed by the football leagues and governing bodies in this country. Kick It Out will be ensuring appropriate action is taken should any views be espoused which are contradictory to this stance, and has already written to the club”.

This, of course, raises the old chestnut about the subtle differences between racism and fascism.

In this respect, I think the campaign has ducked the issue, although I appreciate they’ve made a calculated decision to take stock of the situation and see what happens.

But at least they’ve fired an unmistakable warning shot.

Benjamin Disraeli’s famous words came back to me while I was reading the Swindon Advertiser’s latest unbalanced article about Swindon Town’s fascist manager – see ‘Di Canio receving positive response from fans, says Watkins‘.

But, if Swindon Town’s Chief Executive was correctly quoted, then the statistics he’s come up with are something of an own goal.

I thought it would be useful to correct the inaccuracies which have been presented as fact:

1. “Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as Swindon Town manager has heralded an increase in new season ticket holders for the coming season.”

What increase?

As the same article goes on to explain, “Over 5,000 supporters signed up for season tickets last season” and “We are now at over 4,250 season tickets sold”. Whichever way you look at it, 4,250 is not an increase on “over 5,000″!

2. “The fan reaction has been 99.99 per cent happy”, he [Nick Watkins] added.

Watkins obviously has a problem with basic mathematics. If only 0.01 per cent of the 5000 season ticket holders are unhappy, then that equates to less than one person!

But he then contradicts himself by admitting that, “Some have expressed their unhappiness and sent their season tickets back”. As he is speaking in the plural, there obviously must have been more than one person (actually a lot more, but Watkins failed to tell us how many more).

3. “There were one or two negative comments all centred around his apparent past and link with fascism”.

Two very clear and deliberate mis-truths here:

a. There have certainly been more than “one or two” negative comments (I’m really beginning to worry about Watkins’ problem with numbers).

b. It’s dishonest to make reference to Di Canio’s “apparent past” and “link with fascism”.

Use of the word “apparent” suggests that there’s some kind of dispute over whether Di Canio’s is really a fascist. But this is an undeniable fact, evidenced by his own words – verbally, and in writing in his autobiography.

The calculated use of the word “past” also intimates that he’s since changed his views. But he has not. By his own admission, Di Canio’s has a lifetime dedication to the evil ideology.

4. “I have always said that people mature over time and Paolo has certainly matured.”

Watkins would have us believe that Di Canio’s sick views were/are the result of some kind of juvenile immaturity.

But, yet again, the reality is very different. Di Canio was in his late 30s when he was banned for repeatedly making fascist salutes. Even if he had matured since then (which he hasn’t), then he would have been a very late developer – and he will have conveniently “matured” between the ages of 37 and 43.

5. “We have to take note that things are often said or done in the heat of the moment and you cannot have a man of his passion and determination to win without the pride that comes with him.”

I presume here that Watkins is talking about one of Di Canio’s fascist salutes.

This really is going too far.

Firstly, Di Canio’s extreme views did not come out “in the heat of the moment”. And there wasn’t a single fascist salute which can be dismissed as a one-off event.

Secondly, Watkins is trying to convince us that “passion”, “determination” and “pride” are universally good characteristics even when – as in Di Canio’s case – they’re describing his committment to extreme right-wing ideals.

What Watkins is really saying here, is that good fascists make good football managers.

But what’s most distasteful is that he’s happy to excuse even those sick ideals as long as it gets Swindon Town out of the fourth division.

And I’m offended by Watkins’ assertion that, should that happen, we’ll all conclude that turning a blind eye to Di Canio’s obnoxious views was “in the best interests of Swindon Town Football Club”.

The Real Challenge

So here’s the real challenge, which I don’t expect Di Canio to meet, or Watkins to encourage:

If Di Canio’s sick views really were in the past, “in the heat of the moment”, the result of immaturity, and a consequence of an over-abundance of “passion”, will he now donounce them?

Two faced

It seems the Swindon Advertiser’s left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing.
 
After two weeks of sweeping Di Canio’s evil views under the carpet, the paper failed to see the hypocrisy in its headline “Tell me about my hero father” (see http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/9065840._Tell_me_about_my_hero_father_/).
 
As they put it: “A Swindon man has been revealed as a hero of the Spanish Civil War”.
 
This is the story of the quest for information about Captain George Fletcher, who was seriously wounded when fighting for the International Brigades.
 
His rightfully proud son, John, said, “I discovered my father – who never talked about his life – was a hero in Spain fighting the Fascists from 1936 to 1939″.
 
For once, a newspaper’s use of the word “hero” is fully justified.
 
But their tribute is hollow and, frankly, rather distasteful, following their daily sucking-up to Di Canio.
 
Captain Fletcher almost gave his life fighting fascists like Di Canio.

Far-right group Final Conflict can barely contain their excitement at the appointment of Di Canio.

Their website is bursting with praise for the Swindon Town board, “Hurrah for Swindon Town for having the bravery and cajones [sic] to sign Fascisti Paolo Di Canio as their new manager”, it proclaims.

And their call, “All fascists to Swindon! Avanti!” has also met with an enthusiastic response from someone describing himself as a ‘Nationalist from Scotland':

“The club has quite a good merchandising bit on its website and while I would not normally dream of endorsing a club’s commericial side … wouldn’t it be a blast to have nationalists up and down the land wearing Swindon clothing? An upturn in sales would also send a subtle message to the club that Di Canio’s arrival at the club is popular with many.”

Yes, imagine it, Mr Wray – if all the fascists are wearing Swindon Town shirts this summer, you’ll make a fortune.

(I would normally provide a link to a website I’m quoting from, but it would be irresponsible to do so in Final Conflict’s case. They’re easily found on Google if you feel the urge to read their vile views for yourself.)

Worlds apart

Barcelona shirt

Barcelona shirt

Anybody who watched Barcelona win the Champions League in style last night will realise the gulf between the Nou Camp and the County Ground.

I’m not just talking about the football, which is obvious, and the fact that they are one of the greatest teams in the history of the game and have one of the greatest players.

I’m talking about players of various races and nationalities playing and working hard for each other, which is the reason for their success.

And I’m talking about a club that has for years paid Unicef – an organisation that stands for unity, compassion and justice – for the privilege of displaying its name on their shirts.

Compare this with the “We are out to win League Two at all costs” attitude at the County Ground and judge for yourself whether appointing someone who advocates hatred is ever going to bring the Beautiful Game to Swindon’s children.

Mladic and Mussolini

Mladic and Mussolini

All week, I’ve watched (some) Swindon Town fans and the local media falling over themselves to defend Di Canio’s views.

Many have suggested that Di Canio’s kind of fascism is somehow less extreme than others.

But that’s simply a lie.

Di Canio’s hero, Benito Mussolini, is in the Premier League of mass murderers.

See: http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html, which estimates that his regime was responsible for the extermination of 300,000 people.

Better news this week was the capture of Bosnian Serb mass murderer Ratko Mladic – indicted for the killing of about 7,500 men and boys at Srebrenica.

I’m not going to say that Mladic isn’t as bad as Mussolini because the numbers are smaller, because that’s simply not true.

But those associating themselves with Di Canio need to get a perspective on all this.

Their suggestion that he represents the nicer side of fascism is severely misguided – because there isn’t one.

Are you still sitting comfortably?

I know it’s a difficult one.
No one was (is) a bigger Town fan than me.
But nothing is worth desecrating the sacrifice made by those fighting fascism to preserve our freedom.
Do me a favour. Go away and read about fascism. Find out for yourself. Then decide for yourself…
Are you comfortable with supporting a fascist?

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