Dutch airline KLM has been forced to apologise for joke tweet following Netherland’s victory over Mexico at the World Cup.
The tweet, now deleted, included a photo of an airport departures sign under the heading ‘Adios Amigos’.
Next to the word ‘Departures’ was a picture of a man wearing a sombrero and a moustache.
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, reportedly tweeted to his two million followers that he would never fly with the airline again although that post appears to have been deleted with the actor now apologising for a sense of humour failure caused by the football.
I must say this: apologies to anyone who felt offended by my comments. I was caught by the football bug that spoiled my sense of humor.
— Gael Garcia Bernal (@GaelGarciaB) June 29, 2014
However, other Twitter users were less forgiving , with many saying it was racist.
“Such a Dutch tweet – just the wrong side of funny vs arrogant,” tweeted one user with the hashtag #mexicogate.
Other reactions took a wider view of stereotyping in media and advertising. “It isn’t right but most films show Mexicans that way, why is saying it any worse,” read one.
“It was meant to be a joke but there was too much negative reaction,” said KLM spokeswoman Lisette Ebeling Koning.
She added that the airline had not meant to offend Mexicans and KLM went on to issue an official apology on Sunday.
“In the best of sportsmanship, we offer our heartfelt apologies to those who have been offended by the comment,” said Marnix Fruitema, director general of KLM in North America.
Mexican national carrier AeroMexico broadcast its own (far more gracious) response on Twitter in support of the country’s football team under an arrivals sign.
“Thank you for this great championship,” it said. “You’ve made us proud and we’re waiting for you at home.”
Gracias por este gran campeonato, estamos orgullosos y los esperamos en casa #VivaMéxico pic.twitter.com/GCE5u5Cj6r
— Aeroméxico (@AeroMexico_com) June 29, 2014