Football without the fans is nothing - Mauro Icardi, Similar Cases & Misconduct

Inter Milan's, Mauro Icardi, was today sanctioned following comments he made about Inter fans, in his new autobiography book.

Inter's star striker stated in his autobiography that he confronted the club's "Ultras", following an Inter defeat in 2015 and had been described as a "hero", as a result. It is also understood from social media comments, about the book, that the striker goads the fan group by stating that he has Argentine friends that would come over to Italy and 'back him up'.

Such statements did not go down well with Inter's "Ultras" (a group of fans known for their ultra-fanatical support of a particular team) who not only, in response, displayed hateful banners aimed at Icardi but also jeered him throughout their latest match and even turned up outside his house.

The club released a statement confirming that discussions had been held with the striker and that whilst the player would be punished, he would retain his captaincy of the club - a position that fans called for Icardi to lose.

It is difficult to see how Icardi will bounce back from this string of events with more and more fans turning on him, by the day. Is it only a matter of time before he is transferred out of Inter, like numerous other professionals who have fallen foul of the fans & conduct rules, in the past?

Previous cases of conduct breaches

Stefan Effenberg

In 1994, Germany's Stefan Effenberg was playing in a World Cup Game where Germany were in danger of losing a 3 goal lead. When the scoreline went 3-2, the fan reaction was turning more and more hostile towards Effenberg, in particular. In response, Effenberg gave the fans the middle finger.

Effenberg was sanctioned and never played for Germany again, as a result of his behaviour.

Savo Milosevic

In 1998, Aston Villa were losing 5-0, away to Blackburn. Milosevic was being targeted by fans and when he failed to get on the end of a cross from Dwight Yorke, fans rushed towards the pitch to take aim at Milosevic. In retaliation, Milosevic spat in their faces.

This incident signalled the end for Milosevic's stay at Aston Villa and he was immediately put on the transfer list.

Wang Dalei

Wang was heavily criticised by fans for his performance during China's competitive match with Japan whereby they lost 3-0. Wang responded to the criticism on his personal blog calling the fans "a bunch of dogs and morons."

Wang was suspended and "ordered to meditate on his actions."

Marvin Morgan

Morgan was suspended, fined and put on the transfer list after he responded, on social media, to fan jeers, stating that he hoped they all died.

Code of Conduct

Whilst it must be extremely difficult to ignore extreme taunting by masses of fans, professional players must remember that they are not only club ambassadors but also role models and therefore, must act accordingly, at all times.

The behaviour of players is especially important off the pitch as it is on it. It must be remembered that words as well as actions are being scrutinised at all times not only by fans but also by the media and football officials. It is easy to fall foul of misconduct rules, given their wide scope, if you're not careful about how you act and respond in adverse circumstances.

Players should make themselves aware of not only their club's misconduct rules but also the country's football association rules, as those should not only outline the scope of general conduct but also state the range of offences applicable if the code is breached.

Rules on general conduct are usually wide in scope and require employees/members to: act in the best interests of the club/game, not act in any manner which is improper or brings the club/game into disrepute and refrain from using words which are insulting or offensive. A breach of the rules can result in sanctions for misconduct including fines, match suspensions and even put on the transfer list, as demonstrated above.

IMPORTANT: This post is not intended to be a legal briefing, it is not intended to be a statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice. 

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