05/04/2013 14:32 BST | Updated 05/06/2013 06:12 BST

Why It's Right to Hold Paolo Di Canio to Account Over Fascism

Somehow sport is always different.

It doesn't matter if you hold extreme views that ultimately trample over others so long as the job gets done and the paying spectators get their money's worth.

Dan Jones in his Evening Standard column (4 April 2013) wrote about the 'confected outrage' over Paolo Di Canio's appointment as Sunderland boss. Some of his piece is the standard regurgitated commentary of the past few days' but get this:

"Even if Di Canio is a 'fascist' - however we define that fractured ideology - it is not clear how this pertains to English football."

Now the first thing I'd say - and apologies if I'm not the history jock that Dan is, according to his Twitter handle - is that fascist ideology is on the whole pretty clear and fascists have been more than adept at expressing that, usually not to the benefit of those who stand in their way.

Examples? How many do you want?

Secondly, I'm also fairly confident in saying that no fascist government, regime, call it what you will, has ended well and without bloodshed. Usually, there's conflict, sometimes involving other nations. Examples: Argentina, which included a little local difficulty in the Falkands; Italy and the Allied powers which, as any of Jones's derided "Battle of Britain rent-a-quote veterans" can tell you, included us.

Thirdly, this is not just about football but about power. Glenn Hoddle had to step down as England manager because of extreme comments about disabled people. Clearly, his bosses thought he was unable to continue in the position after holding and expressing such views. Whether or not Di Canio verbally or physically expresses extreme views is not really the point. Why should someone whose political leanings give credit to those who support intolerance to the point of persecution be allowed to operate unchecked? So what if Di Canio's previous right-wing rhetoric might be deemed 'soft-core', it's hardly a cuddly ideology whichever way you look at it.

Most people decorated with tattoos depicting others more than likely select people they admire - heroes, even. Di Canio is probably no different and whatever the 'ambiguity about Il Duce's memory' that Jones says pervades in Italy, history clearly shows where Mussolini's loyalties lay. I would suggest anyone inked with his visage would probably hold similar sympathies or else be a walking contradiction.

Di Canio is free to hold whatever views he wants - however 'confused' they may be - but we should also be free to question, probe and hold him to account. If that is being denied or frowned upon, then haven't we already been silenced?