January 8 – Manchester United’s Uruguayan international striker Edinson Cavani was not intentionally racist in the Instagram post that brought him a three-match suspension.
That is one of the conclusions of the English Football Association in the full findings of its regulatory commission that examined the case.
Cavani pleaded guilty to a charge of using insulting and/or improper words after scoring United’s winning goal at Southampton on November 29. The expression used by Cavani (he posted ‘Gracias negrito’) is often a term of endearment in South America and the Caribbean but elsewhere can be interpreted as having racial connotations.
The post was later deleted and in its findings, the FA’s commission ruled that Premier League fans would have deemed a word “racially offensive”. Cavani, 33, was also fined £100,000.
Cavani had not been in England for long when he posted the message to a friend on Instagram using a Spanish term for which he said was intended as an affectionate greeting.
“The commission were satisfied that the player wrote his reply in affectionate appreciation of a message from his Uruguayan friend and that it was not designed or intended to be racist or offensive either to his friend or others reading the content of the Instagram post,” the three-person FA commission said.
“Such a conclusion was supported by all the available evidence relevant to the circumstances in which the post was made and having regard to the character and response of the player…. However, it is not sufficient that the player simply had no such intent.”
There has been an outcry over the punishment from Cavani’s countrymen but the FA argued that “a follower of English Premier League football would have understandably concluded that the words used were racially offensive.”
It accepted he had not been “sufficiently exposed to the language and culture of this country so as to allow him to have understood that words that were affectionate and unoffensive in his native language, were unquestionably offensive in this country.”
And the commission laid part of the blame at United’s lack of media training for a new signing who did not speak English “to be better placed to understand the cultural differences that might give rise to issues with a foreign player posting information on a social media platform.”
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