A Swedish left-wing politician accidentally flashed his genitals to thousands of followers on Instagram after posting a picture meant to show off his new Liverpool football club tattoo.

Lars Ohly, former leader of Sweden's Left Party, uploaded a photo of Liverpool's liver bird tattooed on his leg. But users were quick to inform him that they could also see his penis in the background.

Ohly deleted the picture soon afterwards and made light of the incident on Twitter by saying: "Ha, ha, I accidentally posted a picture on Instagram that showed more than intended. Now corrected".

The lawmaker, 56, was sunbathing outside his summer cottage when the picture was taken, he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The blunder prompted an avalanche of comments among social media users.

Conservative foreign minister Carl Bildt, a political opponent, tweeted: "Congratulations to you, after all these years, for getting this genuinely public breakthrough!"

Other users claimed that Ohly showed "loads of balls to admit he supports Liverpool".

"Today I decided not to start using Instagram," current Left Party leader Jonas Sjoestedt wrote.

But Ohly seemed relaxed about the issue. "You just need to be a bit laid back," he told The Local. "But for me, the whole story is over now.

"Summer's wonderful. The willy picture is today's hot topic. Completely by accident, though. The future will see a more thorough uploading review process," he wrote in the early afternoon.

Lars Ohly
Lars Ohly (Reuters)