Thursday, December 22, 2005
Shaka: Paolo ain't no friend of mine
C&P from ESPN Soccernet. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=352898&cc=3436
West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop feels betrayed and bitterly disappointed by the controversial behaviour of his former team-mate Paolo Di Canio.
Hislop, a committed anti-racism campaigner, indicated his friendship with Di Canio is over after the Italian was suspended for one match and fined £7,000 for aiming a fascist salute at supporters.
Di Canio, who misses Lazio's Serie A match at Lecce this evening, labelled the suspension 'unjust' and insisted his salute 'has nothing to do with with any political ideologies'.
The 37-year-old saluted his fans the same way during a Rome derby last season, and at Livorno last week. He insists it is a greeting which dates back to ancient Rome.
'I will always salute that way because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people,' he said recently.
But Hislop does not buy former Hammer Di Canio's explanation, given the straight-armed salute now stands for something entirely different.
'I am very disappointed by it. Paolo never impressed me as that kind of person when he was here at West Ham,' said Hislop.
'We got on very well. He got on well with my wife and my kids and to see him making the headlines for his actions disappoints me greatly because of what those gestures mean and the wider effect of it.
'Paolo certainly was someone I considered a friend who I liked a lot, so I am very disappointed.'
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi jumped to Di Canio's defence today, insisting the striker is not a fascist and simply misunderstood.
'Di Canio is an exhibitionist. His salute didn't have any significance. He's a good lad,' said Berlusconi.
But Hislop cannot dismiss Di Canio's behaviour as quickly and easily as that.
'I feel particularly disheartened by it. It is one thing to see someone do it and take a stand against it,' he said.
'But when it is someone you certainly felt was a friend it has a much longer-lasting effect.'