Within minutes of Holland's 2-1 victory over Mexico, KLM's social media unit posted a picture on its twitter feed of an airport departures sign under the heading 'Adios Amigos #NEDMEX'.
The post also bore a symbol of a moustachioed man wearing a sombrero. Moments later an angry backlash ensued, with Twitter users accusing the airline of racism and vowing never to use the carrier again.
One of these was Gael Garcia Bernal, the A-list Mexican actor, who took to Twitter to tell his two million followers in an expletive-laden rant that he would never fly KLM again.
The Mexican actor later apologised for swearing, attributing the incident to an emotional reaction to the football result.
I must say this: apologies to anyone who felt offended by my comments. I was caught by the football bug that spoiled my sense of humor.— Gael Garcia Bernal (@GaelGarciaB) June 29, 2014
Andy Torres, a lifestyle blogger, also took aim at KLM on Twitter to say: "@KLM I am an Elite+ frequent flyer with you guys and I always choose KLM. I'm Mexican and I found your tweet condescending and patronizing'.
.@KLM I am an Elite+ frequent flyer with you guys and I always choose KLM. I'm Mexican and I found your tweet condescending and patronizing— Andy Torres (@stylescrapbook) June 29, 2014
She then sent a fresh tweet, when she added: "@KLM I don't know who runs your social media but I think that was an extremely bad move. Absolutely no respect... Have a good evening."
.@KLM I dont know who runs your social media but I think that was an extremely bad move. Absolutely no respect....Have a good evening.— Andy Torres (@stylescrapbook) June 29, 2014
Another Mexico supporter, Adina Chelminsky, tweeted: "For a trip this summer I had the option of flying @klm or Lufthansa. I was undecided. I took the "Adiós Amigos" to heart. Flying Lufthansa."
For a trip this summer I had the option of flying @klm or lufthansa. I was undecided. I took the "Adiós Amigos" to heart. Flying Lufthansa.— Adina Chelminsky (@AdinaChel) June 29, 2014
Oscar von Hauske, another Twitter user, wrote: "@KLM To whoever in your corporate graphics department decided to create this, let them know you are offensive and you lost a customer."
KLM was forced into damage-limitation mode and the offending tweet was taken down less than an hour after it was posted following an urgent discussion between KLM's media relations team and its social media unit.
KLM apologised for the tweet this morning and admitted that the joke had not gone down as intended.
A spokeswoman said: "We realise that our posts on Twitter and Facebook following the match triggered many emotional replies. We emphasise that it was never our intention to hurt anyone's feelings. In the best of sportsmanship, KLM apologises to those who feel offended. In respect of the many reactions we received we decided to remove the posts."