WARNING: This article contains language referring to race used by the Uruguayan that some readers may find offensive
Edinson Cavani may have been the hero for Manchester United as they overturned a two-goal deficit against Southampton to secure a crucial 3-2 victory in November, but his actions online after quickly took the sheen off.
The Uruguayan striker scored two important goals for the Red Devils on that occasion on November 29, including an injury-time winner, and afterwards he rightly drank in the plaudits for his timely intervention.
However, as he was glorying in the adulation on Instagram, the veteran sharpshooter posted a racially insensitive message which could well see him punished by the English football authorities.
So, what did Cavani post on his Instagram feed and will he be banned?
What did Edinson Cavani’s Instagram post say?
The offending message appeared on Edinson Cavani’s Instagram stories and it read, “Gracias negrito”, along with a handshake emoji.
It was soon deleted, reportedly after the offensive nature of it was explained to the former Paris Saint-Germain star.
Cavani had been sharing and engaging with some of the messages of support he had been receiving from Man United supporters for his two-goal saviour act.
In this particular instance, a fan had written, “So, I love you Matador!” and the 33-year-old forward was apparently responding to show his gratitude.
However, the phrase he chose to use on this occasion just happens to be one of the same racially insensitive terms that Luis Suarez was alleged to have directed towards Patrice Evra during a Liverpool-Manchester United game in 2011.
Cavani wasted little time in addressing the matter, issuing an apology through Manchester United’s official channels the following day.
“The message I posted after the game on Sunday was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend, thanking him for his congratulations after the game,” the Uruguayan said.
“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.
“I would like to sincerely apologise for this.”
United backed their player too, indicating that the club saw “absolutely no malicious intent” in Cavani’s words and they emphasised their commitment to the fight against racism.
Will Edinson Cavani be banned for his Instagram post?
The Football Association (FA) could potentially suspend Cavani over the content of his now-deleted Instagram post, with such offences carrying a minimum three-game ban.
A hefty fine is also a possible punishment for the transgression, along with the need to undertake an educational course.
While Cavani deleted the post relatively quickly and apologised, it does not mean he will avoid sanction. In fact, the FA confirmed on Thursday December 17 that he had been charged with misconduct.
A statement from the FA read: “Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on Thursday 29 November 2020.
“It is alleged that, contrary to FA Rule E3.1, a comment posted on the Manchester United FC player’s Instagram page was insulting and/or abusive and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.
“It is further alleged that the comment 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.”
Cavani has until January 4, 2021 to respond to the FA charge and his position was reiterated by Manchester United.
“We note the FA decision today to charge Edinson Cavani for his social media reply to a friend’s message of congratulations, following the Southampton game,” a club statement said.
“Edinson and the club were clear that there was absolutely no malicious intent behind the message, which he deleted and apologised for, as soon as he was informed that it could have been misconstrued.
“The player and the club will now consider the charge and respond to the FA accordingly.”
Which rule has Edinson Cavani allegedly breached?
The FA rule that is considered applicable in Cavani’s case is Rule E3. It relates specifically to players’ conduct and general behaviour.
More recently, Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli was sanctioned with similar punishment – a one-game ban, a fine and an obligation to undertake an education course – for a joke posted online relating to coronavirus.
Depending on the circumstances, punishments for racially insensitive or abusive language can be much more punitive.
Cavani’s compatriot and friend Luis Suarez was hit with an eight-game ban for using the same phrase in his altercation with Patrice Evra in 2011.
In his book, Suarez wrote that he spoke to Evra in Spanish and did not use the word ‘negrito’ “the way it can be used in English”, insisting that it was a term of endearment.
He claimed that the term “can refer to anyone with dark hair as well as dark skin”, saying that he was “used to the word being used in Spanish in this way all my life.”
The striker said that his wife uses the term to describe him, as his grandmother also used it to refer to his grandfather.
While the word in question used by Cavani is the same used by Suarez, the scenarios are certainly different – one being part of a positive Instagram engagement with fans and the other part of a heated disagreement.