12.22.05

Italian PM : Di Canio’s A Show-Off, Mussolini Not So Bad

Posted in Football at 1:19 am by

From the Independent’s John Phillips.

Silvio Berlusconi (above), Italy’s Prime Minister, sought to make light of the controversy over Paolo Di Canio’s use of the Fascist salute at a football match on Sunday, saying the Lazio striker was simply an incorrigible exhibitionist.

The footballer flashed a straight-armed, flat-handed Roman salute to the crowd during Lazio’s match against Livorno, earning him a ‚¬10,000 (£6,750) fine and a single-match ban.

Mr Berlusconi leapt to his defence yesterday, saying that Di Canio was “a respectable boy, not a Fascist. He just does it for the fans, not out of malice. He’s a good boy, just a bit of a show-off.”

The right-wing leader denied the 37-year-old’s activities were a sign of residual Fascism.

“Fascism is finished, Communism continues,” he snorted. Mussolini’s era hadn’t been so bad, he added, explaining that Fascist racial laws against Jews were only introduced to help the Axis war effort.

“Fascism in Italy was never a criminal doctrine. There were the racial laws, horrible, but because one wanted to win the war with Hitler,” Mr Berlusconi told foreign journalists.

3 Responses to “Italian PM : Di Canio’s A Show-Off, Mussolini Not So Bad”

  1. kt says:

    so he’s basically saying il duce wasn’t a bad guy, he just fell in with the wrong crowd. ok. have world leaders ALWAYS been idiots or is this a relatively new phenomenon?

  2. Jesper says:

    it feels like deja vu… didn’t we do this already last year?? i’ll email you my fave pic of the man (which… deja vu… i may already have done before)

    fantastic quote here:

    http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldFootballNews&storyID=URI:urn:newsml:reuters.com:20051223:MTFH62347_2005-12-23_14-51-45_B285345:1

  3. CSTB says:

    though bashing the heck out of Di Canio is pretty easy these days, it was only 5 years ago while starring for West Ham that he was given FIFA’s Fair Play award for the following incident in a match with Everton :

    West Ham’s newest saint of sportsmanship, Paolo Di Canio, has been taken by surprise at the praise he is receiving for stopping play at Everton.

    The Italian caught an injury-time cross after seeing goalkeeper Paul Gerrard lying in pain during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Everton.

    Di Canio said: ‘Just as I did not expect to be branded a psychopath when I pushed over (referee) Paul Alcock, I did not expect the praise I am getting now.

    ‘I saw the goalkeeper doubled over. I saw his knee twisted in the wrong direction. With outfield players it is different, we occasionally have a fall. But I guess he is heavier and got his studs caught in the pitch.

    ‘I could hear him screaming in pain and I understood right away it was serious. That is why I was yelling at Trevor Sinclair to stop so Paul could get some medical attention.’

    Gerrard was immediately replaced in goal by Steve Simonsen. But the 32-year-old Hammer, linked with a move to Lazio last week, said he reacted instinctively rather than thinking of the possible advantage for his team.

    ‘It seemed like the right thing to do but I didn’t really think about it. A serious injury to any professional is far worse than losing two points.

    ‘Would I have scored? You can’t say for sure, but without the goalkeeper and a big, wide open goal, I’m sure I’d have had a good chance.’”

    DiCanio’s pro-Mussolini remarks in his autobiography made only the tinniest stir in England. At that point, he was an established fan favorite (a wild turnaround following the altercation with Alcock — not unlike the way Knicks fans embraced national pariah Latrell Sprewell) and was doing all sorts of ads on television. No sieg heils for the cameras of course, but then again, he wasn’t playing against Roma.

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