David Miliband hand gesture 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble)
Former British foreign secretary David Miliband was prompted to quit the Sunderland board, following the club's appointment of flamboyant Italian Paolo Di Canio as head coach on Sunday.
Miliband quit the board within hours of Di Canio replacing Martin O'Neill on Sunday, releasing a statement saying the move was due to "the new manager's past political statements" -- a reference to Di Canio's apparent support of fascism.
Di Canio drew outrage in 2005 when he celebrated his side Lazio's derby win over AS Roma with a fascist-style salute and he later admitted being an admirer of Italy's fascist leader in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Benito Mussolini.
He received an 11-match ban in 1998 for shoving referee Paul Alcock to the ground after being shown a red card while playing for Sheffield Wednesday.
He also picked up a fair play award for catching the ball - rather than shooting into an open goal - so that injured Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard could receive treatment during a league game.
Miliband, once tipped as a potential prime minister, in March said he was leaving politics to boost his brother's chances of leading the opposition Labour party to victory in an election in 2015.
Miliband said he was stepping down as a Labour MP to take up a job in New York as head of the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid organization. Miliband' parents were Polish Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust.
Fans are likely to be divided over the arrival of 44-year-old Di Canio.
On Monday Bob Hudson, a Sunderland supporter for 57 years, said he was handing back his season ticket in disgust at Di Canio's appointment.