1 Apr 2013

Milliband quits Sunderland over Di Canio appointment

6:32 pm on 1 April 2013

The former British foreign secretary David Milliband has stepped down from the board of Premier League side Sunderland after it appointed the controversial Italian manager Paolo Di Canio.

Milliband says he's quiting because of Di Canio's past political statements.

In 2005, Di Canio received a one match suspension from playing after giving a Nazi salute.

He's previously described himself as a fascist.

Di Canio was appointed Sunderland head coach today, a day after the English Premier League football strugglers sacked Martin O'Neill.

He joins 16th-placed Sunderland on a two-and-a-half year contract, six weeks after quitting third-tier Swindon Town.

O'Neill was dismissed on Sunday after the club's 1-0 defeat by league leaders Manchester United which left the north-east club without a win in eight games.

The flamboyant Italian enjoyed a colourful playing career with clubs including Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio, West Ham United and Celtic among others.

Fans are likely to be divided over the appointment of Di Canio, who has no experience of top-flight management and inherits a team hovering one point above the relegation zone.

The former striker landed his first job as a coach when he was appointed at Swindon in 2011.

The 44-year-old guided the club to the fourth-tier title a year later and said he was prepared to eat into his savings to fulfil his ambition of taking them into the second tier.

Di Canio left Swindon mid-February after a roller-coaster time with the club, his passion often boiling over into rows with his players. This season he antagonised fans by telling those unhappy with his decisions to go and support local rivals Oxford United.

Di Canio's first match in charge of his new club is next Monday's trip to Chelsea.