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DiCanio meets Holocaust survivors


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ROME, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Lazio's Paolo Di Canio has defended his political views after meeting with Jewish survivors of Nazi death camps on Thursday.

The striker was condemned by Jewish groups in Italy after making fascist salutes at the end of Serie A matches against Livorno and Juventus in December.

In both cases the Italian Football League's disciplinary committee punished him with a 10,000 euro ($11,860) fine and a one-match suspension.

Thursday's meeting at Rome's Campidoglio between representatives of Lazio and AS Roma teams and three survivors of Nazi camps outside Italy was arranged by the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni.

Veltroni had also spoken out against neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic banners held up by Roma fans during a match against Livorno last month.

"My (political) ideas remain the same, but that doesn't mean I'm in favour of violence," Di Canio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

"Today we heard the stories of people who have been through something terrible."

Di Canio has always insisted his salutes had no racist overtones, although he has never hidden his admiration for former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. He has the word "Dux" - Latin for "Duce" - the name Mussolini gave himself during his rule over the country, tattooed on his arm.

After Thursday's meeting, however, he admitted that Mussolini's laws prohibiting Jews from holding public office, going to public schools and universities had been wrong.

"It's important that people are aware of what happened. The race laws (introduced by Mussolini) were terrible. Violence is never a positive thing," he said.

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Whether or not he is a racist, a fascist is still bad enough. DiCanio in action:



Di Canio 'fascist but not racist'

Lazio striker Paolo Di Canio is to appeal against a ban and a fine imposed against him following a recent straight-arm salute, claiming that while the gesture is fascist it is not of a racist character.

"I am a fascist, not a racist," Di Canio told Italian news agency ANSA overnight.

"I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a 'camerata' to 'camerati'," he said using the Italian words for members of the late dictator Benito Mussolini's fascist movement.

"The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don't want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred."

Di Canio missed Lazio's game at Lecce on Wednesday after he was banned for one match and fined 10,000 euros ($16,288) for making the fascist-style salute during a recent Serie A match.

The former Celtic and West Ham United player first produced the salute during a Rome derby last season.

His gesture has been widely condemned by politicians, players, fans and Jewish groups but he has won backing from some right-wing politicians.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, owner of AC Milan, this week said the salute "did not have any significance" and described the player as "an exhibitionist but a good lad".

In his autobiography, Di Canio makes clear his admiration for Mussolini and he also wears a tattoo with the word 'Dux' - Latin for 'Duce' - the name Mussolini gave himself during his rule over the country.

Di Canio was a member of Lazio's hardcore 'ultras' fan group before becoming a player - the Lazio ultras are known for their far-right sympathies and links.

On Tuesday, the sport's governing body FIFA asked the Italian Football Federation to submit its file on the player who once won FIFA's Fair Play Award.


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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

Whether or not he is a racist, a fascist is still bad enough.

The problem with political terms is that they can easily be misapplied and misidentified. Fascism has bad connotations as does Communism, but it doesn't mean those styles of government don't work. A case can be made that depending on the level of a nation's political development, some types of government may work better than the democracy ideal we hold so dear in the western world.

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Mis-apply fascism??

Okay, I admit the high school diploma thing has so far eluded me but clearly I'm missing something here.

Have always been a Di Canio fan but this is a bit much all ready. I mean, ummmm. Paulo baby, give it up! You're sounding like an ass.

Good on the clubs and the politicians to make a public effort though. Not sure it'll amount to S.F.A. but what the Hell? Why not?

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Since my recollection of history isn't what it used to be, thank you Wikipedia for the quick references.

Fascism was created in Italy in the early 20th century as a result of a weak government and inept monarchy, fear of communism by the middle class and a real ****ty economy. As a reaction to weak government and economy, it promotes tight state control of the political system and economy (corporatism). The main problem is that it also wants tight state control in the social and cultural areas.

Please note that Italy was still an infant nation only having been united in the late 1800s and this was an easy way to glue the country together. Anyway, it spread across Europe between World War I and World War II and came to symbolize the Nazi regime and is now used as a slur against any type of right wing or repressive government.

As for DiCanio, there are many who still see this as an attractive political option in light of the inherent corruption in Italian politics and society. Politically speaking, fascism and democracy are not incompatible. More importantly, fascism and violence are not synonimous.

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