Berlin - A politician from Germany's right-wing populist AfD party sparked outrage Friday with a Twitter message suggesting the German side could have beaten France in the Euro 2016 semi-final with fewer non-white players.
"Maybe next time the German NATIONAL TEAM should play again," the party's deputy leader Beatrix von Storch tweeted after Germany's 2-0 defeat in Marseille.
The remark was widely seen as a jibe at players with immigrant roots and caused a storm of protest on Twitter.
"Pure stupidity," Ralf Stegner, a leading member of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right government, tweeted back at von Storch.
"Sore loser," said Armin Laschet of Merkel's CDU party, while the Berlin chapter of the party issued a statement accusing von Storch of exploiting football for "racist insinuations".
"Who is this pathetic person who can't be happy that we're the world champions?" Omid Nouripour of the opposition Greens party said, referring to Germany's 2014 World Cup victory in Brazil.
And popular television comic Jan Boehmermann pleaded: "Let's just stick together and ignore Beatrix von Storch."
Von Storch later deleted the offending tweet and took to Facebook to say that it had been a misunderstanding and she was referring to the team's nickname, Die Mannschaft (the team), not individual players.
"I will keep calling them the Nationalmannschaft (national team) because that's what it is, with all its players," she wrote.
It was not the first time the Alternative for Germany party was seen as taking aim at non-white players.
In May, another AfD deputy leader, Alexander Gauland, attacked team star Jerome Boateng: "People find him good as a footballer, but they don't want to have a Boateng as a neighbour."
Gauland faced widespread condemnation for his remarks but Boateng, who was born in Berlin to a German mother and a Ghanaian father, brushed them off.
"I can only smile about it. In all honesty, it's sad that something like that is said these days," he said.
Von Storch shocked the country earlier this year by suggesting German police may have to shoot at migrants, including children, to stop them entering the country.
The AfD was founded as a eurosceptic protest party in 2013 but now mainly rails against Islam and Germany's record refugee influx that last year brought more than one million asylum seekers to Europe's top economy.
It currently polls at more than 10 percent and is represented in half of Germany's 16 states as well as the European Parliament.