The photo was picked up and distributed repeatedly, with floods of comments likening the nine players to both Zwarte Piet (‘black Pete’) and monkeys, and questioning whether they were “really” Dutch.
Other players in the photo included Memphis Depay, Karim Rekik, Kenneth Vermeer and Gregory van der Wiel.
Dutch human rights activists have long complained that Zwarte Piet, the Moorish slave who assists Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) at Christmas, is a racist hangover from the colonial era. Traditionalists say the often-buffoonish character is not meant to be racist, and that the character is only dark-skinned because he climbs up and down chimneys.
Zwarte Piet is typically portrayed in the Netherlands by white people in blackface.
Robin van Persie, the Dutch captain, expressed his anger at the racist comments during an interview on TV calling for those making the comments to be prosecuted.
“It is shocking that such a thing still happens in 2014”, said the Manchester United striker. “This should be dealt with harshly. It’s time to set an example.”
“We can not let this pass. Color should not matter. We represent our country all together, but apart from that it is very sad that this is happening.” he added.
On Sunday, PvdA party Parliament Members Ahmed Marcouch and Keklik Yucel asked ministers Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice) and Ronald Plasterk (Internal Affairs) if the Public Prosecutor can do an investigation (and possible prosecution) into the statements, even if no charges are made.
Also angered by the events Wesley Sneijder said: “These kinds of idiots do not belong in our society.
“Sad that this still happens in 2014. If you dare to give such racist comments, there is something wrong.”
John Olivieira a Fare member from Amsterdam commented, “This is an insight into both the continuing levels of racism in a country most pekoe think is a liberal and tolerant nirvana. It also shows how necessary the debate over Zwarte Piet is.”
One blog that posted the photo, Voetbalzone, took the popular picture down because of the remarks. “Although the photo had more than 8000 likes over the course of the afternoon, reactions lacked so much class that we have decided to remove the post,” said Voetbalzone editor Daniel Cabot Kerkdijk told RTL Nieuws.
“The group should come up with a statement” says player in the picture
“I am shocked by the comments. That this is still happening in 2014 is disgraceful.” said the Eredivisie club PSV winger Memphis Depay, one of the players in the picture.
“In my youth I experienced a lot of racism. It must once be stopped. The group should come up with a statement”.
Former Dutch National team manager Guus Hiddink has also commented on the case: “I can not read all the comments, the head should be taken off of any form of racism.”
“Facebook should be fun and positive we think”
Dutch singer Hadewych Minis responded with despondence on her own Twitter account. “If you think that discrimination in NL is really not so bad, read how people responded to our Oranje heroes,” she wrote.
For more information on the campaign against ‘black Pete’.
Dutch Public Prosecutor to investigate the incident
Following the call of the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB), the Dutch Public Prosecutor (OM) is investigating the racist reactions to the picture and the response for possible crimes.