BERLIN - German public broadcaster ZDF has fallen offside with football fans over a controversial television advert to promote matches involving the national women's team at the European Championships in Sweden.
In the 22-second ad to promote Euro 2013, a female footballer is seen juggling a dirty football with her feet before chipping it into a washing machine, which is set on "leather" mode.
Favourites Germany are bidding to win their sixth straight European title and have won seven of the 10 finals since the tournament was first held in 1984.
Fans in football-mad Germany have taken to the micro-blogging site Twitter to brand the advert "sexist and totally embarrassing", with one user assessing: "ZDF have scored an own goal with this Euro ad!"
ZDF's editor Peter Frey defended the advert, by saying: "Advertising is made to be noticed and to generate interest, so this advert was successful."
While ZDF can also point to their commitment to the women's game, having shown matches live for a number of years, the advert has not impressed Silvia Neid's side.
Midfielder Fatmire Bajramaj, who was voted world player of the year in 2010, said it had not gone down well within the Germany squad.
"The advert was not a good idea," said the 25-year-old.
"You'd like the advert to have something to do with women's football, not with a washing machine.
"They should change things for the next advert."
Germany were held to a goalless draw by the Netherlands on Thursday in their first match. The tournament started on Wednesday, with the final to be held on July 28 in Stockholm.