Charlton Athletic boss Chris Powell believes Sunderland have made "a bold move" in appointing Paolo Di Canio as their new manager.
Sunderland have been embroiled in controversy since Di Canio was appointed on Sunday as successor to the sacked Martin O'Neill due to the Italian's previously stated political beliefs.
As part of a lengthy statement released by the club on Monday, Di Canio pointed to his friendship with Powell when the pair played together at Charlton, and also and Trevor Sinclair, in response to accusations of racism. The Italian dismissed the furore as "ridiculous and pathetic".
Di Canio has refused to expand on a 2005 interview with an Italian news agency when he said he was "a fascist, but not a racist''. He batted away all questions on the matter as he was unveiled at Sunderland on Tuesday.
Asked about Di Canio's political views after Charlton's 0-0 draw at Brighton, Powell said: "You will have to ask him. Paolo was part of my club career, being a team-mate of mine and I met him socially. Sunderland have made a bold decision.
"It's remarkable it didn't come out when he was manager of Swindon. It's a bold gamble football-wise.''
On Di Canio being a success at Sunderland, Powell added: "The proof will be their remaining games. He has done well so far in League One and Two with Swindon.''
Information from the Press Association was used in this report