MUNICH (AP) Leading figures at German champion Bayern Munich hit out angrily against the media for its reporting of the club's recent loss of form, even threatening to take legal action if necessary.
Bayern's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president Uli Hoeness and sport director Hasan Salihamidzic appeared together Friday to speak out against what they consider unfavorable media coverage.
Rummenigge labelled some of the criticism aimed at Bayern "derogatory, slanderous reporting" as he addressed a packed news conference.
After winning the past six titles, the 28-time German champion is sixth in the Bundesliga and has not won its past four matches overall.
"Today is an important day for Bayern Munich because we are telling you we will not put up with it anymore," Rummenigge said.
"Polemic seems to know no boundaries anymore ... This applies to the media, it applies also to experts, and it applies above all to experts who once played football for this club."
Rummenigge even cited Article 1 of Germany's basic law: "The dignity of man is sacrosanct."
The Bayern officials complained against "outrageous" criticism of club stalwarts Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels following Germany's 3-0 loss to the Netherlands last week.
Former Bayern player Olaf Thon, now a TV pundit, said Boateng and Hummels were playing "old-man football" in the side's central defense. Thon, a skillful midfielder who played for Bayern from 1988-94 stood by his criticism.
Bayern started the season well under new coach Niko Kovac, with seven straight wins in all competitions, has been the subject of critical coverage for its lackluster play in recent games. Kovac's side has appeared flat and labored and was humiliated 3-0 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach before the international break.
Kovac, a former Bayern midfielder in his first big coaching role, has struggled for answers on how to turn the side's fortunes around, and there was speculation over his future before Rummenigge and Hoeness belatedly backed their coach.
Hoeness also slammed the media for its coverage.
"It's time that the most important club in Germany positions itself," he said. "We will not accept any disrespectful and irreverent criticism anymore."
Hoeness himself previously accused former Germany international Mesut Ozil of "playing like dirt for years" and Bayer Leverkusen's Karim Bellarabi of being "insane" for a challenge he made on Bayern defender Rafinha.
"I should not have said that," the 66-year-old Hoeness acknowledged on Friday.
Bayern plays at Wolfsburg on Saturday.