Milan: Struggling Serie A giants AC Milan were left red-faced after conducting a bizarre pre-match 'Haka' ritual dance prior to a Serie A game on Thursday, that also resulted in a social media backlash.
Seven-time European champions Milan hosted relegation-haunted Carpi at the legendary San Siro stadium looking for a win to boost their bid to qualify for next season's Europa League.
But fans were left baffled in the lead-up to the kick-off when two "teams" of players — dressed to look like AC Milan and Carpi — appeared on the pitch. After both teams ran down the end of the pitch, the Milan team proceeded to perform a Haka, the ritual war dance usually performed by New Zealand's All Blacks prior to their rugby games.
With electronic advertisement hoardings blazing the message: "Men, this is your ritual", it quickly became apparent the "players" were actors and the dance part of a publicity campaign for a well-known men's face cream.
Several of Milan's players currently appear in television adverts for Nivea cream, although Thursday's display did little to soothe the concerns of fans amid yet another disastrous season for the club.
Indeed, Milan fans around the world voiced their disgust at the depths to which Milan, and football, has plummeted. Owner Silvio Berlusconi is actively seeking a buyer for either a majority or minority share in the club.
In a series of posts on the micro-blogging site Twitter fans unleashed their fury.
Seven Times European Champions, A.C Milan.
— 9GAG Troll Football (@9trollfootball) April 21, 2016
That's not a Haka, it's the Macarena to a #Haka sound track.
— Ben Dunbar (@BDDunbar) April 22, 2016
— JASON BICKERSTAFFE (@Jason6286) April 21, 2016
for some reason AC Milan saw fit to perform a haka before their match overnight. i expect NZ to declare war on Italy https://t.co/xZANcJcKNO
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) April 21, 2016
AC Milan doing Nivea's version of the Haka tonight. This makes me want to leave the industry I work in. Christ. https://t.co/4yXHYZ8tuW
— Christopher Etchells (@etchells_c) April 21, 2016
Watch the full video of the Haka: