- Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi embroiled in a battle with his own fans
- Icardi's autobiography recounts 2015 altercation with Inter's "Ultras"
(CNN)You can't judge a book by its cover, but it seems you can judge a man by what's inside.
Soccer autobiographies are all too often anodyne affairs, but Inter Milan footballer Mauro Icardi's book Sempre Avanti is currently causing the 23-year-old Argentine a spot of bother after he had some harsh words for the people who pay to watch him play.
The relationship between Italian clubs and their hardcore supporters is a complex one, but a number of Icardi's remarks -- notably "I will bring 100 criminals from Argentina who will kill them on the spot" -- have stretched the bond between Inter's fans and their star striker to breaking point.
"The last couple of days have been a sad period in my time with the Nerazzurri," said Icardi as he struck as contrite a pose as possible after Inter sanctioned him for "contravening the club's internal regulations as signed by every player." The club didn't specify what the sanction was.
Icardi added: "It all stemmed from a page of my book which was probably written in haste; a page where some of the tone wasn't appropriate, and I'm really sorry that the Inter fans got caught up in all this.
"I will make efforts to have those pages removed to avoid anyone feeling offended betrayed or threatened."
Icardi is no stranger to controversy having previously made headlines for a love triangle involving former teammate Maxi Lopez and his wife, Wanda Nara.
But the striker's autobiography has threatened to destabilize his entire relationship with the Italian club's hardcore fans, especially as he's the team's captain.
Reliving an altercation with a prominent member of the Inter Milan "Curva Nord" Ultras group in unusual depth in his autobiography, Icardi has angered them to such an extent that a missed penalty in Sunday's 2-1 defeat by Cagliari was met by derisive delight from his own supporters.
The fuse for the dispute was lit in an innocuous away fixture at Sassuolo during the 2014-15 season. Inter lost the game 3-1, and Icardi and his teammate Fredy Guarin faced the ire of the visiting supporters.
"I am angry because I played so little," writes the Argentine. "The fans start to shout: they call us to come over to their section. I find the courage to face them.
"As I get closer, I receive insults and abuse of every kind. I take off my shirt and shorts and throw them to a kid as a gift. He is in seventh heaven and I am pleased to see him happy.
"A leader of the Ultras snatches the shirt away from him and throws it back at me. This is when I insult him: 'Piece of s**t, you act the big man with a little kid to show off in front of the rest of the Curva.'
"In the changing room, I was acclaimed as a hero; nobody had ever stood up to one of the fan leaders."
A feud resurfaced
In Sempre Avanti, Icardi recounts his feelings towards the Ultras that day, writing the incendiary remark: "How many of them are there? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? OK, record my message and let them hear it. I will bring 100 criminals from Argentina who will kill them on the spot."
The book was published on October 11 and it didn't take long for the Curva Nord to make their feelings known.
"He talks about helping little kids, then invents an incident that never happened to make himself seem superior to us, as if it weren't obvious to all that we are the only Curva that helps kids design the choreography in the stands," said a Curva Nord statement.
"You are finished with us. You're done. TAKE THE ARMBAND OFF, YOU CLOWN. Yes, that is what we demand."
That prompted Icardi to respond via social media, insisting he was "surprised and sorry" for any offense caused, and that captaining Inter Milan is the realization of his childhood dreams.
"I hope you understand how important you are for me and how much respect and love I have for you, even if you decide to jeer me.
"I ask you just one thing as captain: stay close to Inter, as you always have, because my teammates and I need you."
A mixed start
If the club's performances this season are anything to go by, Inter needs Icardi.
The Argentine signed from Sampdoria in 2013 and was appointed captain two years later at the age of just 22.
The key events so far
- October 11 - Icardi releases his autobiography detailing the altercation with Inter fans on February 1, 2015.
- October 15 - Inter's Ultras, the Curva Nord, release a statement calling Icardi a liar and a "clown," asserting "An individual like this cannot wear the captain's armband."
- October 16 - Icardi is jeered by his own supporters as he runs up to take a penalty against Cagliari; the Argentinian misses a key spotkick to the derisive delight of some sections of the crowd.
- October 16 - Inter fans unveil a banner reading "You're not a man, you're not a captain, you're just a piece of "s**t." Another follows that says "100 goals & 100 trophies don't cancel out the s**t you are!"
- October 16 - After the game, Inter Ultras leave a message outside Icardi's home reading: "We are here, let us know when your Argentinian friends arrive."
- October 17 - Icardi retains the Inter Milan captaincy.
He has only recently extended his contract until 2021, and with six goals in eight league appearances to his name this season, the striker has hit the back of the net more often than the rest of his team put together.
Yet just six years on from Champions League glory under Jose Mourinho, the club languish in 11th in Serie A.
And while Icardi has already scored more for the Nerazzurri than Brazilian Ronaldo during his Inter career, early indications suggest the Curva Nord supporters will not be quick to forgive.
"You can't mock a fan and treat him like an idiot just because you can kick a ball," a spokesman for the Ultra group, Franco Caravita told SportItalia Monday.
"Icardi the player is dead to us. We hope he'll withdraw this book and then that would probably close the matter for us."