Former Spain and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has been criticized on social media after tweeting a picture of himself posing with two people in blackface.
The World Cup winner was not in blackface but sitting at the front of a group of 10 people taking part in the Three Kings Day celebration in Spain, also known as Epiphany.
An important Christian festive tradition in Spain, Three Kings Day commemorates the visit of the wise men Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, representing Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively, to the newborn baby Jesus.
Parades are held in cities and villages across the country and the role of Balthazar is often played by a white man in blackface.
The 34-year-old – who has 23.8 million followers – posted the picture on January 6 accompanied with emoticons of three crowns and three stars.
While the post received over 23,000 likes and nearly 3,000 retweets, many were critical of the picture.
English DJ Nick Bright tweeted: “I cannot believe in 2019 famous people are still doing or are around people doing “blackface” and tweeting it, where are your friends Iniesta?! Didn’t anyone say “Andres, I don’t think this is the one bro.”“
Journalist and author Musa Okwonga said: “I love Iniesta like few other public figures, let alone athletes. He seems a supremely humble man and teammate. I just wonder how you can share a dressing room and so many trophies with Eric Abidal and Dani Alves and still not realise this is not cool. It’s very disappointing.”
Londres est bleu posted: “Black face is still offensive. Being black is NOT a costume. You can’t use part of someone’s identity, especially the exact part that was used to mark them for oppression, such as skin color for your amusement. PERIOD. To hell with your tradition!”
At the time of writing, the picture remained on Iniesta’s timeline and the 2010 World Cup winner, who currently plays in Japan for Vissell Kobe, had yet to respond to the criticism.