Prominent Uruguay internationals Diego Godin and Luis Suarez have joined forces to condemn the FA ban handed to Edinson Cavani while also branding the England’s governing body “ignorant” and “racist.”
A statement issued by the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association on Monday — posted by both Godin and Suarez — called for Cavani’s punishment to be overturned after the Manchester United striker was hit with a three-game suspension and a £100k fine for replying to a friend on Instagram, writing in Spanish “gracias, negrito” — a term that can be interpreted as racist in the United Kingdom.
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Although it is widely used as a term of endearment in South America and the Caribbean, the word is regarded in England, as well as within parts of the Afro Uruguayan community, as carrying racial connotations, prompting the FA to investigate Cavani’s post.
Later on Monday, the Uruguay Football Federation called on the English FA to review its decision, saying that the FA failed to take the cultural context of the term of endearment into consideration.
The Uruguay federation also made reference to comments made by the Uruguayan Academy of Letters. who on Friday denounced the ban, calling the sanction for a racial comment an example of English football’s lack of “cultural and linguistic knowledge.”
The statement published by Godin and Suarez read: “We must condemn the arbitrary conduct of the English Football Association. Far from condemning racism, the English Football Association has itself committed a discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of the Uruguayan people.
“Edinson Cavani has never committed any conduct that could be interpreted as racist. He merely used a common expression in Latin America to affectionately address a loved one or close friend.
“To sustain that the only way to obtain a valid interpretation in life is that which lies in the minds of managers of the English Football Association is actually a true discriminatory act, which is completely reprehensible and against Uruguayan culture. We would like to publicly defend Edinson Cavani’s impeccable character and of course our country’s culture.
“We are all against any kind of discrimination; however unfortunately, through its sanction, the English Football Association expressed absolute ignorance and disdain for a multicultural vision of the world.”
In its statement, the Uruguay federation called Cavani a “person whose character and ethics are unblemished.He is level-headed, kind-hearted and of a noble soul.” The statement went on to say that the English FA’s ruling deserved “unanimous rejection” because it took into consideration neither cultural context nor the Spanish language in which Cavani’s response was written.
As well as being handed a suspension and fine, Cavani, who deleted the post and apologised after being made aware of the UK interpretation, has also been enrolled in an education programme.
Cavani missed the 2-1 win over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and will also sit out games against Manchester City on Wednesday and Watford on Saturday — a sanction that the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association insist should be immediately overturned.
Their statement read: “The first rule to fight against racism is to respect such different ways of life and cultures.
“We request the FA to immediately overturn the sanction imposed on Edinson Cavani and reinstate his good name and honour in the world that has been so unfairly tarnished by the reprehensible decision.”