Deinster SV, a German football club, posted the photo
after a Sudanese refugee player, Emad Babiker, was attacked.
Babiker was beaten by two boys last weekend during an Easter celebration, leaving him with a black eye. He was traumatized and expressed that he wanted to quit the team.
The club says the attack was racially motivated. Babiker's teammates were upset and rallied around him. The contentious photo was posted as an act of solidarity for the refugee player.
"This is simply very sad! Violence against refugees is disgusting," the club posted on its Facebook page.
Team members "wanted to show Emad that they are all the same and that he is equal," said Frank Sandmann, press spokesman of Deinster SV.
"Blackface" has historically been used to perpetuate racist stereotypes and is typically seen as offensive, but the team said it used blackface as a stance against racism. Blackface was first used in the mid-19th century by performers who would darken their skin and exaggerate their lips as part of traveling minstrel shows.
Most people responded positively to the intent behind the photo.
"Be careful: Can we agree that the Deinster SV had the right intention and consider the situation?" Baron von Agitpop tweeted in German.
"'Emad and Amar - you belongs to us.' I think it is very, very fine, what the #deinster SV did," Anja Perkuhn tweeted in German.
Babiker returned to training on Thursday and was very touched by all the comments on the Facebook page, Sandmann said.