SAO PAULO (AP) — A photo of Corinthians striker Emerson kissing a male friend has caused backlash among fans in Brazil.

Emerson was heavily criticized on social media and a group of Corinthians supporters went to the team's training site on Monday carrying a banner condemning the kiss.

The player described the criticism as "foolish" and "unnecessary." He also called football's environment "chauvinistic."

He said the photo, posted on Instagram after a Corinthians' match on Sunday, only reflected a playful moment while he was dining with his girlfriend and friends at a restaurant. He said the man in the photograph is a longtime friend whose wife is nine-months pregnant with the couple's third child.