Ulster Rugby have been forced to apologise after a photo involving two of their players with black make-up pretending to be ‘Ethiopians’ appeared on Twitter.
The photo, posted on the Twitter profile of Ireland player Paddy Jackson, shows him and international team-mate Chris Henry ‘blacked-up’ attempting to look African.
The other three men in the picture have not yet been identified and the image has been promptly removed.
It is believed the men were dressed as members of the Ethiopian Olympic team.
It is not known how long the photograph was online, but Jackson made it his profile picture on Twitter recently with Henry posting a very similar one on his feed on May 16.
Joseph Ricketts, from ACSONI (African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland), told Good Morning Ulster that the photo was “deeply offensive”.
“I am shocked and appalled by this irresponsible behaviour,” he said.
“It’s worse than bad taste. One of the characters was seen with a chain around the neck, which mimics the most awful period in history for black people.
Club apologise for ‘shocking and appalling’ …
“It’s nasty and people who have seen it are very appalled by it.”
He added: “Whether they were trying to justify it as good craic, or something, people are offended by it and as public figures, which they are, they need to be more responsible in the way they behave.”
Ulster Rugby said they “apologise unreservedly for any offence”.
In a statement, the club said the photograph showed the players at an “Olympic-themed fancy dress party held two years ago”.
“It was not the intention of the players to cause upset and the photograph has since been removed.”
Jackson and Henry were both members of the Ireland squad that won this year’s Six Nations.