So … what’s the over-under on fascist salutes at the Premier League game between Newcastle and Sunderland on Sunday? Police have warned Newcastle fans that they will come down hard on any fans flinging the salute during the game, which of course means that more people are likely to do it. Should be fun.
Called the Tyne-Wear derby, the soccer match is set for at St James’ Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, which just sounds so British I could spit Brooke Bond. What isn’t so British is what’s about to happen: a festival of Nazi saluting not seen since General Burkhalter last visited Satalg 13.
This is because Sunderland’s coach, Paolo Di Canio, is widely believed to hold fascist political views. Just look at the photo. He reeled off that salute in 2005, when he was a player for Lazio — and was fined and banned for it. (Appropriately, his position was attacker). In addition, according to The Guardian, he said this about the salute in 2006:
“For me, the gesture reflects membership of a group with true values … If we’re now in the hands of the Jewish community, it’s the end.”
Di Canio made at least three fascist salutes during games while playing for Lazio, and has a tattoo on one bicep, “DUX”, which is latin for “leader” and a tribute to former Italian dictator and all-around fun guy Benito Mussolini. Lazio is pretty well known in Italy for its proliferation of fascist-leaning fans, so it could be said that Di Canio was just giving the people want they wanted.
So Newcastle is set to throw a few his way on Sunday, to mock him. But they will be gentle fascist salutes, filled with love.
And as such, chief superintendent Steve Neill of Northumbria police has warned off supporters keen to cause trouble – insisting the force will take strong action against anyone involved and such salutes are “not a joke.”
“Offensive gestures, particularly those with a suggestion of racist connotations, are completely unacceptable and we will take action against anyone seen acting in an offensive or racist manner,” he said.
“Offensive behaviour can constitute a criminal offence and such behaviour is taken seriously.”
Of course police have no control over social media. Best tweet so far:
Paulo Di Canio insists he isn’t a fascist. At least I think that was the gist of the five-hour speech he gave from his hotel balcony.
— sickipediabot (@sickipediabot) April 7, 2013
In March, Greek Super League player Giorgos Katidis, who plays for AEK Athens, was banned from the national team for life and suspended from his club team for the rest of the season for his Nazi salute following a goal against Veria.