Shanghai, China: Juventus have apologised after the Italian champions came under fire for posting a message on Chinese social media about the apparent suicide of a fan, which was later exposed as untrue.
The Serie A giants issued a message of condolence on China's Twitter-like Weibo in response to a post on the platform claiming that a fanatical supporter had committed suicide following a row online about striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, it transpired that Weibo user "Juventus changing room cleaning lady" -- whose real name has not been reported -- was alive and unharmed after Chinese media and police tracked her down.
The case has drawn about 40 million views and generated thousands of comments in recent days on Weibo, where many European football clubs and players connect with their Chinese followers.
Juventus's post to its 725,000 followers mourning the supposed suicide triggered several days of criticism and shrill calls for the club to apologise.
In a statement to AFP, the club said: "The agency in charge of Juventus social media accounts on Chinese digital platforms did a mistake by believing in what has then been revealed to be fake news, and we apologise for this."
The apology is unlikely to placate everyone.
"Yes, you were also fooled," wrote one Weibo user, hitting out at the Italian club.
"But if you have this title ("Juventus"), at least understand that every word you say represents the image of the club."