Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi may be stripped of his Inter Milan captaincy following a bitter and very public spat with Inter's most fervent support.
In the Argentine striker's new autobiography 'Sempre Avanti', Icardi wrote about an incident between him and the Inter Milan “Ultras”, claiming he became a hero in the locker room after standing up to the club's supporters for taking a shirt from a child’s hands to throw it back at him, after Inter’s defeat to Sassuolo in February 2015.
Inter's Ultras were incensed by his version of events, issuing a statement labelling him a “clown” and demanding that the club strip him of the captaincy.
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Icardi tried to de-escalate the situation with an Instagram post apologizing to the fanbase, but the damage was already done, and the supporters weren't having it in the slightest.
Things escalated even further as Inter took on Cagliari on Sunday, and fans unfurled a banner that read “You’re not a man … You’re not a Captain … You are just a vile piece of s***.” They booed Icardi throughout, and cheered when he missed a first-half penalty as Inter went on to lose 2-1.
Things don't look great for Icardi at Inter, with club legend Javier Zanetti even admitting the Nerazurri may be forced to strip their captain of the armband.
“Will we be taking action? Unfortunately, yes,” Zanetti said. The fans are the most important element, they accompany us and we all should respect them.
“We cannot accept this behavior from a person who works for our club. After this match we will talk things over and see what happens.
“Will we remove the captain’s armband? We’ll talk about it later, but this is an issue not just for Icardi, but for everyone who is part of the club.”
It's hard to see a way back for the 23-year-old Argentine. He was already on thin ice with the club's supporters after a contract spat earlier in the summer, and now, his relationship with Inter's Ultras may be beyond repair following the controversy he's stirred up with his book.
The only thing he really can do at this point is keep scoring goals and hope points on the board can help erase the supporters' long memories. It's generally not a great idea to anger your club's most loyal fanbase, and to do it in such a spectacular fashion? Oof. Things are far from settled in Milan, and with the January transfer window fast approaching, this could just end in a bitter split between the two parties.
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“I am angry because I played so little. The fans start to shout: they call us to come over to their section. I find the courage to face them, along with Guarin. As I get closer, I receive insults and abuse of every kind. Attached to the netting is a kid who calls me: he wants my shirt.“Considering his age, he could be my son: I take off my shirt and shorts and throw them to him, as a gift. This kid is in seventh heaven and I am pleased to see him so happy.“A head of the ultras jumps on him to take away the shirt and throws it back at me. This is when I start insulting him: ‘Piece of ****, you are acting all arrogant with a little kid to show off to the rest of the curva? Do you think you’re hard?’“In the locker room I am acclaimed as a hero, because nobody had ever faced off that way with one of the fan leaders.”
“Icardi, as far as we are concerned, you’re finished. Why such squalid fiction? We are horrified, that book is ridiculous and with regards to that incident there are only lies.“We merely ask for effort and honesty, while he depicts us as threatening figures who gravitate around the club asking for who knows what, so evidently something is wired wrong in his head.“An individual like this does not deserve the captain’s armband.”