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It is Hamburg on the opening Sunday of the European Championship and the north German port city is cosplaying as Amsterdam.

The Reeperbahn is a carpet of orange fans, stretching, swaying, and bouncing as far as the eye can see. For many, it is simply not a Euros without the noise and colour provided by Dutch supporters, possibly the most vociferous in Europe.

On this afternoon, however, the actions of three supporters will reignite a fierce debate in Dutch culture — which the national team have now been dragged into.

Those three — male, white, and appearing aged under 40 — were dressed as legendary midfielder Ruud Gullit, who captained the Netherlands to their only major tournament win in the 1988 Euros.

They donned his retro shirt, a dreadlocks wig — and wore blackface. The practice, an individual darkening one’s skin to impersonate a black person, is deemed as racist and offensive in many countries around the world.

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Dutch football supporters and a tradition that divides the Netherlands



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