(CNN) — Juventus has apologized after a tweet was posted on its women’s team’s official account showing a player making a racist gesture towards Asian people.
The Italian soccer club sparked outrage on Thursday after it tweeted a photo showing defender Cecilia Salvai using her fingers to pull her eyes back while wearing a red training cone on her head.
The post also included emojis that mimicked the eye-pulling gesture.
The photograph was swiftly taken down but not before it prompted a ferocious backlash and accusations of “blatant racism” from the online community.
“We sincerely apologize that our tweet, which was not meant to cause controversy or have any racial undertones, may have offended anyone,” the club said in a statement published on its official Twitter account shortly after the post was taken down.
“Juventus has always been against racism and discrimination,” it added, with a “DifferencesMakeTheDifference” hashtag.
When CNN asked Juventus what social media protocols it had in place, the club declined to answer, pointing to its online apology, where it promised a “thorough review to prevent similar things from happening again.”
“Juventus immediately realized that the Club had committed an unforgivable mistake, and this mistake has seriously hurt the feelings of all people who oppose racial discrimination,” the club said in a Friday statement posted on its website.
CNN asked Salvai for comment through the club, while Juventus said in its website statement that it “assumes full responsibility for the occurrence of the incident and its serious impact.”
The 27-year-old Salvai hasn’t posted on social media but has turned off comments on Instagram.
The controversy comes months after Juventus marked International Day against Racial Discrimination on March 21.
Players wore special jerseys featuring numbers associated with statistics related to racism, such as the fact that one in three Black people experience racial harassment in Europe.
In Friday’s statement, Juventus said “opposing racial discrimination and supporting the common development of multiple cultures are the principles that Juventus as a Club has always adhered to and continues to put into practice.”