Swastika cross was imprinted on the pitch for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.
A design company that claims to be based “somewhere in Europe” has attracted heavy criticism after launching a line of tee-shirts, sweaters, and hoodies emblazoned with the swastika.
KA design says it wants to reclaim the symbol infamously used by the Nazis and return it to its original meaning of peace and love.
The clothing line set a white swastika against a colourful backdrop resembling the rainbow flag popularised at gay pride events.
KA design launched the line last month, selling items on Teespring website.
According to Dazed magazine, which interviewed those behind the controversial line, there are no fashion designers on the team.
KA design’s presence went largely unnoticed until social media users discovered its online marketing.
In a launch video, KA design says the Nazis “took the swastika, rotated it by 45 degrees, and turned it into hatred, and turned it into fear, and turned it into war, and turned it into racism”.
The swastika and its variants were central to a number of ancient cultures, most notably to Indo-Aryan peoples who invaded and settled in the Indian sub-continent in the early Bronze Age, around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
The symbol carries religious importance for a number of Indian religions, including Hinduism, and the word itself derives from the Sanskrit language, which was spoken in ancient India and continues to hold liturgical importance for Hindus.
The Nazis later appropriated the symbol as part of their race-based mythology, in which they exalted Nordic European peoples as the descendants of the original Aryan race.
After the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War, displaying the swastika was banned in several Western countries.
In India and other majority Hindu states, it continues to be used as a religious symbol.
“[Nazis] stigmatised the swastika forever,” KA design said. “They won, they limited our freedom, or maybe not? … The swastika is coming back, together with peace, together with love, together with respect.”
Reactions to the company’s attempt to rebrand the symbol were largely negative and included criticism from Jewish groups.
After thousands of angry tweets and posts on Facebook, Teespring stopped sales of the clothes.
“Teespring would like to apologise for this incident and is taking action to ensure this does not happen again in the future,” the company told Al Jazeera, adding that no swastika tee-shirts were sold.
The company said it would make a donation to Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in solidarity with those who were offended.
“You Can Now Buy Rainbow Swastika T-Shirts, But Please — Don’t,” said Twitter user Kirk De Matas.
You Can Now Buy Rainbow Swastika T-Shirts, But Please — Don’t. https://t.co/qbFIilCoXb
— Kirk DeMatas 🏳️🌈 (@KirkDeMatas) August 7, 2017
The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), wrote: “This is an offensive use of #Nazi imagery. Fashion can’t reclaim this symbol from (hate).”
— ADL (@ADL) August 6, 2017
Unsurprisingly, Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site, voiced his support for the line.
“I want to say that I am in 100% support of the rebranding of the Swastika as a symbol of love,” he wrote in an article.
“I have been trying to do this for years, and I am thankful that hippies are finally getting on-board with that particular project. After all, the Swastika always was a symbol of love, was it not?”
KA design responded to the controversy on Facebook on Monday.
“Hatred and Nazism have won,” the company said. “We brought out the worst in people. We believe in a world of infinite forgiveness. We forgive everyone. And we hope to be forgiven. Let Love Prevail.”
A Buddhist or Hindu group could, perhaps, "reclaim" the swastika as they had (or have) a claim on it.
— Ian Rennie (@theangelremiel) August 7, 2017
Idc if you're not even a Nazi, if I see someone wearing a rainbow swastika shirt, it's hands on sight & I dare you to call it a hate crime.
— Zoé (@ztsamudzi) August 7, 2017
They didn't even do enough research to see what the original peaceful swastika looked like. pic.twitter.com/Yj1uW9HthC
— rapha (@raphafromtwit) August 8, 2017