Britain’s ambassador to Chile has apologised for making a homophobic comment on Twitter.

Jon Benjamin, a diplomat for more than 25 years, was so happy about getting a ticket to a World Cup qualifying clash in Santiago between Chile and Argentina that he indulged in anti-gay jibes about Argentina and its defeat to Britain in the Falklands War.

Adopting a Chilean football taunt that goes “Argentines, gay, you lost the Malvinas because you are cowards”, Benjamin tweeted in Spanish, asking: “Which islands did they take off who and for being what?”

According to Sky News, the remarks were intended to be sent in a private message but he accidently posted them on Tuesday to around 10,000 of his followers.

In a later tweet, Mr Benjamin said: “Sorry I offended [in] a private DM [direct message] published by mistake. I have much affection for my Argentine friends.”

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Our ambassador to Chile appears to have inadvertently caused some controversy in a tweet. He has deleted it.”

Mr Benjamin took up the job as ambassador to Chile in December 2009 and has held posts around the world in a diplomatic career spanning almost three decades.

On his Twitter page, he describes himself as a “Hammers [West Ham] fan, Londoner at heart and Jewish atheist”.