Whatever others may say about him, Paulo Di Canio is clear: "I am a fascist, not a racist." Mr Di Cano is as deft a political thinker as one would expect a football manager to be. Because while, in theory, it may be possible to separate fascism from racism, Mr Di Canio's form of fascism seems to do nothing of the sort. In 2005 he railed against the Jews: "If we are in the hand of the Jewish community it's the end".
He apparently does not consider fears of Jewish dominance to be racism. But the real issue here is not the rantings of an idiot. It is the behaviour of Sunderland FC in appointing a man of such well known views. Fascism is not some unusual quirk of historic interest. It is a thriving and growing threat in much of mainland Europe - not least in Di Canio's home, Italy.
It is scarcely believable that the directors of Sunderland decided that the best man to manage the club was someone with a Mussolini tattoo who gives fascist salutes to the crowd. By what perversity do Sunderland's board think it appropriate to appoint a manager who behaves in a way that is illegal for the club's own followers? This newspaper of all papers does not need to point out to our readers the evils of fascism of any stripe. But someone clearly needs to do so to the Sunderland board.