Manchester United have defended Edinson Cavani and insist the striker is ‘not a racist’ after he received a three-game ban for using the word ‘negrito’ in an Instagram post.
After scoring two late goals in United’s 3-2 victory over Southampton on November 29, Cavani thanked a friend for his congratulatory message but referred to him as ‘negrito’, which is often used affectionately in South America to describe someone with dark skin or hair.
United claim that Cavani, who posted his response in Spanish, was unaware of the connotations and deleted the post after being informed that his message could cause offence.
A statement from United read: ‘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.’
‘I saw Gary [Neville] said something [that] maybe all players coming from different cultures should be educated and I’m sure Edinson has learned the hard way,’ said Solskjaer.
‘We’ve communicated with Edinson and he’s really deeply sorry for the mistake he’s made. There was no malicious intent at all – it was just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his – but we explained to him.
‘He has been asked by the FA to explain so he’ll cooperate with them, and we’ll support him. It’s one of those unfortunate situations where he’s just come into the country and in Uruguay he’s been using a different [meaning] to what we have [for the word] so we’ll support him and we support the FA. It’s important the FA have asked him to explain and it’s out there for everyone to see because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone.’