Deinster SV, a German soccer team, posted a digitally-altered team photo on Facebook March 30 that showed them with black faces.
The picture is meant to be a stand of solidarity for two of their black team members (Sudanese refugees) who were verbally and physically abused during an Easter celebration.
According to BBC News, the team also posted a message with the picture: "Violence against refugees is pathetic," and "Emad and Amar, you are one of us just like everyone else and we're happy you are with us."
Soenke Kreibich, the Deinster SV coach, told the Jetzt website: "We wanted to make a stand, amongst ourselves but also to the public. It should make it clear that Emad and Amar are an inherent part of our team, and not a minority on whom you can use violence to let off your personal frustration."
While the team's intentions are admirable, some are questioning if using blackface, traditionally a racist portrayal of black people, was the best way for them to express support.
Frank Sandmann, a spokesman for Deinster SV, told NBC News: "This has nothing to do with racism, we just wanted to show solidarity."
According to Sandmann, Emad Babiker was physically beaten in the incident, which local police are investigating.
Sandmann said there had been some negative responses about the picture, but most were positive.
So far, the Facebook posting has more than 17,000 "likes."
Sometimes the Three Wise Men in German Christmas pageants wear blackface, while The Netherlands has a controversial character, "Black Pete," for Christmas, reports NBC News.
Deadspin.com notes: "Germany doesn’t have the United States’ specific racial history of minstrel shows or tradition of blackface, so it would be a stretch to call this intended act of solidarity outright racist. What everyone should be able to agree on here, though, is that the resulting image looks very strange, very funny, and is actually very sweet. But maybe don’t do this again."