Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has apologised after attracting criticism from his followers after posting an image on Twitter of himself dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter, sporting 'blackface' make-up.
Griezmann was wearing a full basketball uniform and an afro wig in a picture captioned "80's party", along with an emoji indicating joyous laughter.
Responses quickly labelled the post "racist", urging Griezmann to delete the tweet and warning of a backlash.
Following a storm of replies on the player's account, Griezmann followed up by calling the costume a tribute to the legendary basketball team.
"Calm down friends, I am a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of that beautiful era, it is a tribute," he said on Twitter.
That explanation did not help the controversy, and Griezmann eventually deleted the picture before posting an apology.
Je reconnais que c’est maladroit de ma part. Si j’ai blessé certaines personnes je m’en excuse.— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) December 17, 2017
"I admit it's awkward from me," he wrote. "If I did hurt anybody, then I apologise."
By that point, however, Griezmann's original post had been retweeted more than 15,000 times as the image went viral around the world.
Racism remains a sensitive topic in Spanish football circles, with players at times subjected to abusive chants from fans.
Former England striker Stan Collymore was among those to condemn the picture on social media, writing on Twitter: "A simple Google search will tell you the context of black face and where it came from. Instead of saying 'I don't think that's racist', put yourself in others shoes, read a little and then say 'ok, I hear ya.'"
Steve Zakuani, a Congo international who played in MLS from 2009 to 2014, also criticised Griezmann's post.
"Sad to see this from one of my favourite players," he wrote. "But our skin is not a costume to wear for 'fun'. People struggle through life just for having this skin so it should not be worn for entertainment purposes.
"I think it's an honest mistake from him but it’s still not right."