Football: Di Canio claims he 'offered to leave' Sunderland over fascism row

LONDON (AFP) - Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio revealed on Sunday that he offered to leave the English Premier League football club during the media storm over his political views that followed his appointment.

The Italian's arrival at the Stadium of Light provoked a maelstrom of controversy due to political statements he had made in the past, and forced him to release a statement in which he said he does "not support the ideology of fascism".

He met Sunderland owner Ellis Short to discuss the matter and says he would have been prepared to walk away from the club.

"I told him, 'Tell me what I have to do. Bye bye. No problem, because I do not want to be a problem for the club'," di Canio told British newspaper the Independent on Sunday.

" 'If I don't represent a problem for you, I am OK, I am ready to handle the pressure. It is no pressure for me. All day rubbish me, I don't care. It is my life, but if you think, 'Mmm, probably, yeah, I let you be free', I don't want nothing and I go.'

"He said, 'Absolutely, you have to stay. You are our man.'

"That for me was enough. Refocus. I will never forget what he did. He gave me a big chance of my dream to become manager at the top level. Next year I hope I can be here. You never know what is going on in life."

Sunderland sit three points clear of the relegation zone with two games remaining in the Premier League and were due to host Southampton later on Sunday.

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