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Cavani banned for 3 games and fined $136,000 for ‘racist’ Instagram post



Edinson Cavani has been hit with a three-match ban after the Manchester United striker used the word ‘negrito’ in a social media post.

He will now miss the Premier League game against Aston Villa, EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City and FA Cup clash with Watford – leaving him free to return to action at Liverpool on January 17..

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.’

The FA has confirmed, the post which was published shortly after United’s 3-2 win against Southampton, in which Cavani scored two goals after coming on as a half-time substitute.

In the post – which was later deleted – the words “gracias negrito!” are used to thank a follower congratulating Cavani on his performance in the match at St Mary’s.

Social media postings are covered by FA Rule E3, and if a comment is deemed to include a reference to a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race or nationality, then that will be regarded as a potential aggravating factor in any punishment. The rules also make it clear that the owners of social media accounts are responsible for any content posted from their account, whether by themselves or by a third party.

Additionally, deleting an inappropriate post does not necessarily prevent a sanction from being imposed. Last year, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was banned for one match after posting and then deleting a tweet comparing his teammate Benjamin Mendy to the cartoon figure on a brand of Spanish chocolate.

If the FA decides to pursue the case it will write to Cavani in the next few days asking for his written observations. Any charge must be issued by next Monday.

The word in question – “negrito” – brings back into light the infamous row that took place between Cavani’s friend and Uruguay teammate Luis Suárez and Patrice Evra during a game between Liverpool and Manchester United in 2011. It was the word Suárez was believed to have said to Evra; the striker later admitted he said “negro” but did so in a friendly manner that is common in Uruguay. However, the FA’s disciplinary panel rejected this explanation, deeming Suárez had used the word in a derogatory manner and that while he is not a racist, he had been racially abusive to Evra. Suárez was subsequently fined £40,000 and banned for eight matches.

At the start of this season, the FA issued fresh guidelines on racist language and behaviour on social media, with offences carrying a minimum ban of three matches. Manchester United were not available for comment on Sunday night.

• This article was amended on 30 November 2020. An earlier version of this story suggested Suárez used the word “negrito” when addressing Patrice Evra. He later admitted he said “negro”.

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