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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 19:58 GMT
Di Canio 'fascist but not racist'
Paolo di Canio
Di Canio says the gesture is not intended as a political statement
Lazio striker Paolo Di Canio has defended the raised-arm salute that earned him a one-game ban by saying he is "a fascist but not a racist".

Di Canio will contest a one-match ban for the salute, made against Juventus on Saturday, and he told Ansa news agency: "I am a fascist, not a racist.

"I made the Roman salute because it's a salute from a comrade to his comrades and was meant for my people.

"With this stiff arm I do no want to incite violence or racial hatred."

The former Italy under-21 international, who was also fined 10,000 Euros, made the gesture after being substituted in the 1-1 draw against Juventus at the Olympic Stadium.

The 37-year-old also made a fascist salute during the Serie A defeat at Livorno on 11 December.

As things stand he will miss Lazio's trip to Lecce on Wednesday.

Di Canio also made a fascist salute at the end of Lazio's 3-1 win over city rivals AS Roma in January.

On that occasion he was fined 10,000 euros and escaped a ban.

The gestures have been attacked by politicians, players, fans and Jewish groups in Italy.

Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer's governing body Fifa, said players making fascist salutes should be banned from the game for life.

Even Lazio distanced themselves from Di Canio, saying the club rejected any "politicisation" of football.

Di Canio defended the gesture, saying it was not intended as a political statement and that he would continue to acknowledge his fans in whatever way he chooses.

Fifa to probe Di Canio 'salute'
22 Dec 05 |  Europe
Hislop unable to forgive Di Canio
21 Dec 05 |  West Ham Utd
Di Canio offers apology
11 Aug 04 |  Charlton Athletic


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