Bayern Munich's German head coach Hans-Dieter Flick (R) shakes hands with Bayern Munich's Bosnian Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Munich, southern Germany, on April 20, 2021. AFP
Bayern Munich on Thursday told fans to rein in their "personal attacks" onsports director Hasan Salihamidzic amid his feud with head coach Hansi Flick, who wants to leave at the end of the season.
A win at Mainz on Saturday will guarantee Bayern a ninth straight Bundesliga title, but tensions are simmering behind the scenes.
Despite steering Bayern to the treble last season and winning the 2020 Champions League title, Flick dropped a bombshell last weekend by saying he wants to be released from his contract.
Tensions with Salihamidzic over recruitment are believed to have been a key factor.
Bayern fans are furious with what they see as Flick being forced out, leading to a barrage of insults aimed at Salihamidzic.
Bayern president Herbert Hainer stepped in to back Salihamidzic, 44, who was elected to the club's executive committee last year.
"Objective criticism is always permissible, but we condemn personal attacks and agitation in the strongest possible terms," Hainer said in a statement on the Bayern website.
"There is no place in the slightest for that at FC Bayern."
Tensions have brewed since Salihamidzic recently stated Jerome Boateng will not be offered an extension when his contract expires in July.
Flick made it clear he wants to keep the 32-year-old.
Hainer shed some light on the club's financial situation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"There are two sides to every coin," Hainer explained.
"All of us, including myself, were happy about the team's great performances and the excellent football of the past 18 months.
"We understand that a coach would preferably like to have a squad with 30 top stars – we all feel that way.
"But we have the coronavirus and have to figure with a loss of revenue of around 150 million euros ($180 million)."
The club is "still in a good financial position," Hainer added, "but the strain is considerable."
Salihamidzic is under contract until 2023, but many fans want to see him - not Flick - leave.
An online petition "Pro Hansi Flick, Brazzo (Salihamidzic) out!" had collected around 70,000 names by Thursday.
The fan initiative is seeking a general meeting of club members to dismiss Salihamidzic, but Bayern's bosses are refusing to engage in dialogue.
Fans spokesman Michael Frohsz told AFP subsidiary SID, "we want to settle this on a fair and objective level".
The 39-year-old says there will be conflicts with Salihamidzic in the future, "no matter under which coach. We have to get a new sports director."
The fans' dream candidate is 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger - and club bosses also have an eye on the 36-year-old.
In a virtual club members meeting on Tuesday, board member Oliver Kahn cited Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm as examples of players "we have to have in the back of our minds".
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)