Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been handed a three-match ban by the Football Association for using a racial term in a social media post.
The 33-year-old summer signing produced a match-winning display at Southampton on November 29, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes before netting a brace in a 3-2 comeback win.
Cavani posted a social media message on Instagram shortly after the match, replying to a message of congratulations using the Spanish term ‘negrito’, which translates as ‘black’.
The Uruguayan swiftly deleted the post and issued an apology after being made aware of the connotations, with the player releasing an apologetic statement the following day saying he was “completely opposed to racism”.
But the FA charged the striker with “misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3” in relation to his social media post on December 17 and has now banned him for three matches.
The governing body said in a statement: “Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games, fined £100,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting a charge for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on Sunday 29 November 2020.
“A comment posted on the Manchester United FC striker’s Instagram page was insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA Rule E3.1.
“The post also constitutes an “aggravated breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3.2, as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin.
“An independent Regulatory Commission was appointed to decide the sanction and its written reasons will be published in due course.”
Cavani will miss the Premier League match against Aston Villa on New Year’s Day along with the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City and the FA Cup third-round tie against Watford.
United are understood to have felt the striker should not have been charged given it was an inadvertent mistake by a non-English speaker and hope the £100,000 fine is used to support anti-racism projects.
The club said in a statement: “As he has stated, Edinson Cavani wasn’t aware that his words could have been misconstrued and he sincerely apologised for the post and to anyone who was offended,”
“Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge out of respect for, and solidarity with, The FA and the fight against racism in football.
“While it is clear that context and intent are key factors, we note that the independent Regulatory Commission was required to impose a minimum three game suspension.
“The club trusts that the independent Regulatory Commission will make it clear in its written reasons that Edinson Cavani is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post.”