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Thursday, February 16, 2006

A poison in the beautiful game

Is Paolo Di Canio the most stupid footballer ever? Or is he just a racist arsehole?

Lazio footballer Paulo di Canio - punished in the past for giving a Nazi-style salute - has met Italians who survived the Nazi death camps.

"I've listened to the stories but I still have my ideas," the former West Ham and Charlton forward said later.

The meeting was set up by Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni, who previously brought AS Roma players face-to-face with Holocaust survivors at Rome city hall.

Fans have paraded swastikas and other Nazi symbols at some Italian matches.

Fascist beliefs

The BBC's Christian Fraser, in Rome, says Di Canio has become the darling of the neo-fascist right.

On three occasions he has given a right-arm salute to the Lazio fans - which earned him a fine and a suspension from the Italian Football Association.

The salute was the trademark of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini before it was adopted by the Nazis.

Speaking after Thursday's meeting, Di Canio said: "My thoughts remain the same, but I don't want it to sound as if I believe in violence.

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