Manchester United player Edinson Cavani has pleaded guilty to a charge of "using insulting and/or improper words" which has been brought against him by the English Football Association. As a result, he has been given a three-match ban and a £100,000 fine.
The Uruguayan landed in hot water due to a social media post wherein he used a Spanish phrase that may be deemed offensive and racist by some. However, Cavani claimed that he was simply engaging in innocent banter with a close friend when he made the post.
The post was shared after Cavani scored the winning goal in Manchester United's game against Southampton on November 29. He reposted a congratulatory post and replied with the phrase "Gracias negrito." The post in question was later deleted as soon as Cavani was made aware of the offensive connotations. In particular, his use of the word "negrito" came under fire.
According to the BBC, the Uruguayan also needs to complete a "face-to-face" education programme. He is set to miss tonight's Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Aston Villa, as well as the EFL Cup semi-final on January 6 against Manchester City. The final match that will be affected by his suspension will be an FA Cup clash against Watford on January 9.
After he became aware of the offensive nature of what he believed was a friendly comment, Cavani immediately issued an apology. "It was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend, thanking him for his congratulations after the game. The last thing I wanted to do was cause offence to anyone. I am completely opposed to racism and deleted the message as soon as it was explained that it can be interpreted differently," he said.
According to charges brought forward by the FA, the post "constitutes an aggravated breach" which "included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin."
Meanwhile, Manchester United shared a statement expressing their full support behind the player. "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."