War Veterans And Miners Threaten To Boycott Stadium of Light
War veterans and miners are boycotting Sunderland games after Paolo Di Canio became head coach.
Hundreds have signed an online petition demanding the Italian be sacked before he has taken charge of a single game.
And a Facebook group set up in protest at the appointment gained more than 2,000 likes in less than 24 hours.
Ex Battle of Britain pilot and Sunderland fan John Hall, 92, said he’d not set foot in the Stadium of Light again.
The former Flight Lieutenant, who flew 60 missions, told The Sun: “They should have employed someone else.
“I’m too old to go to matches but I’d pack it in if I was still going.
“If push came to shove and I could manage it, I’d go back and fight the fascists all over again.”
Durham miners have written to the club to demand the return of a trades union banner which has been on permanent display at the Stadium of Light.
They described the Italian’s appointment as “a disgrace and a betrayal of all who fought and died in the fight against fascism.”
Dave Hopper the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association has demanded the return of the Wearmouth Miners’ Banner, which is on permanent display in the Stadium of Light.
Mr Hopper, who worked for 27 years as a miner at Wearmouth Colliery, the site on which the Stadium of Light now stands, said: “I, like many thousands of miners, have supported Sunderland from infancy and am passionate about football.
“But, there are principles which are much more important.
“Our banner represents the Durham miners’ long struggle for the rights of the working class, rights which were annihilated by fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain and Chile.
“We have a sacred obligation to the millions who were wiped out by Hitler, Mussolini and Franco to oppose fascism wherever and in whatever context this evil creed raises its head particularly at a time when working people are again being forced to pay for capitalism’s crisis as they were in Europe in the 1920s and 30s.
“The appointment of Di Canio is a disgrace and a betrayal of all who fought and died in the fight against fascism.
“Everyone must speak out an oppose this outrage and call on Ellis Short and the Sunderland Board to reverse their decision.”
The Stadium of Light was built on the site of what was once Britain’s biggest coalmine, Monkwearmouth Colliery.
Outside the ground is a giant effigy of a miner’s lamp, testifying to its links with the industry.
Di Canio has denied being a racist, but failed to denounce fascism, saying: “I don’t know why I have to keep repeating my story, to be defending myself on something that does not belong to me every time I change clubs.”