MUNICH - Bayern Munich apologized Friday for tricking fans over a "spectacular new signing" after supporters reacted angrily to a publicity stunt in which the Bundesliga leaders sought to increase their fanbase on Facebook.
Bayern said on its website that it had taken fans' numerous comments into account to determine that many were "very angry" with the club.
"We're sorry. But it wasn't our intention to disappoint you with the new FC Bayern app," Bayern said. "Rather, we wanted to put the focus on you with this action, to show how important each fan is for Bayern Munich."
Fans had been directed to Facebook to watch the announcement of a new striker Thursday, and were made to "like" Bayern's page in order to view the proceedings.
Instead of learning the identity of striker Mario Gomez's backup, fans were then presented with an app called "The New FCB Star."
"Dear fans, you probably already noticed that we did not sign a new player. This app is for our fans to show the importance of you for our club," the club had said. "Each Bayern fan is the 'spectacular new signing,' our 12th man!"
Thousands of fans reacted negatively, leaving uncomplimentary comments on the club's Facebook page — even though Bayern described the whole thing as "a bit of fun for our fans."
Bayern's own goal was compounded when Munich's TZ newspaper reported that the club had warned its players about publishing photos or sharing information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with an outright ban coming into effect within 90 minutes of a game.
The warning came after Bayern defender Breno complained on Twitter of being forced to play in the reserve team, and midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk posted footage of Uli Hoeness' 60th birthday party on YouTube and a picture of the Bayern dressing room before a game.
"The players know that they need to cut it down," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told Bild on Thursday — the day of Bayern's "spectacular new signing."
"It's not on that you take photos or allow photos be taken before a game — like Tymoshchuk — and put them on the internet. It's tomfoolery, it's unprofessional."
Heynckes said Friday that the timing and manner of Bayern's publicity stunt "weren't quite so fortunate," especially after the 3-1 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend.
"If we had won 4-0 in Moenchengladbach and it had been presented in a different manner, then it would have been somewhat more successful," Heynckes said.