Ruud Van Nistelrooy sparks controversy after 'blacking up'

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Ruud Van Nistelrooy posted pictures of him dressed as King Balthazar on Twitter. Photo: Twitter / Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Ruud Van Nistelrooy has sparked controversy after 'blacking-up' for a Spanish parade.

The former Manchester United striker was taking part in the Parade of the Three Kings in Marbella, Spain, where he visited a hospital and gave presents to staff and patients.

The retired Dutch footballer was dressed as Middle Eastern King Balthazar and wore a long gown and head dress.

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Van Nistelrooy meets a man in the hospital he visited. Credit: Twitter / Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy's choice of make-up caused a mixed reaction on Twitter.

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@rvn1776 people are playing that racist card to easy now a days ,to busy jumping on the band wagon to see the good you were doing #idiots

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@okwonga your thoughts on Ruud Van Nistelrooy's good deed gone wrong? Is this a clash of cultures. It seems utterly derogatory to me.

The Parade of the Three Kings is held annually in Spain and celebrates the end of the festive season.

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Ruud Van Nistelrooy during his Manchester United playing days. Picture from 2006. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive

Dressing up as the three kings is popular in Spain and Balthazar, one of the kings, is historically portrayed as a black man.