American ice hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins have blamed a social media staffer for a photoshop controversy that erupted after a recent home game.
The Penguins copped backlash this week when they were caught red-handed using a doctored photo showing fans wearing face masks at their PPG Paints Arena home.
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The NHL team's official Twitter account sent out a message on social media thanking its fans for their continued support alongside a group of supporters all wearing face coverings in the stands.
Or so it seemed.
“We just had to say this again … thanks for the continued support, Penguins fans,” the tweet read.
“We can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.”
Eagle-eyed fans were quick to work out that several members of the crowd had their face masks photoshopped on.
At least one fan also pointed out that a female fan at the top right of the original picture - not wearing a face mask - had been cropped out of the image used by the team on social media.
The altered image also fixed a situation for at least two other fans, whose masks weren't covering their noses properly.
Team called out over false photo
Presumably, the photos were doctored in an attempt to spin some positive public relations for the benefit of the club.
However, the Penguins copped plenty of backlash on social media over their naughty piece of PR trickery.
In a statement obtained by the New York Post, the Penguins acknowledged the alteration and have "reprimanded" the "perhaps well-intended" person responsible for compromising the image.
“Our social media team should never send out altered photos to our fan base,” the statement read.
"This is a violation of our social media and safety policy."
The Penguins say they have implemented a zero-tolerance policy on mask-wearing and have staff monitoring the fans throughout the games.
Fans were allowed back inside the arena after Pittsburgh Governor Tom Wolf raised capacity at indoor venues to 15 per cent.
“We’re grateful for the loyalty that our fans showed during this difficult time,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
“We feel like we have some of the most loyal fans in sports. These guys have been so supportive of our players over the years. I know the players are appreciative of that.”
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