Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani had “no malicious intent” when he posted a social media message which contained a Spanish word which can be interpreted as being offensive in English following Sunday’s Premier League win at Southampton.
The post is being investigated by the English Football Association to assess whether it broke guidelines on racist language and behaviour.
Cavani, who is due to face former club Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday, has since deleted the Instagram post and issued an apology.
Although it is widely used as a term of endearment in South America and the Caribbean, the phrase is regarded in England as carrying racial connotations, prompting the FA to investigate Cavani’s post. If it is found to have contravened FA regulations, Cavani faces a minimum suspension of three domestic games.
Speaking for the first time since the social media post, manager Solskjaer said the club will support the player and cooperate with the FA investigation.
“Edinson is really deeply sorry for the mistake he’s made,” Solskjaer said. “There was no malicious intent at all, just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his, but we explained to him that he has been asked by the FA to explain it. He will cooperate with them and we’ll support him.
“It’s an unfortunate situation. He’s just come from Uruguay into this country and [the word] has a different affection than we have, but we we’ll support him and we support the FA because it’s important the FA have asked him to explain. We want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone.
“I saw Gary [Neville] said something on all players coming from different cultures should be educated and Edinson has learnt the hard way.”
Solskjaer admitted, however, that the controversy may affect Cavani’s focus going into the PSG game.
“Edinson is ready to play,” Solskjaer said. “We will work on his mindset today and tomorrow to be ready for the game. He’s learnt a lesson, it might affect him, but he”ll have to put it to one side when the game’s on. The best players put thoughts away for a while.
“It’s special for him to play against PSG, his old club where he’s the top scorer, so that’ll affect him mentally, but from knowing him, that’ll give him energy.”
Meanwhile, Solskjaer confirmed that goalkeeper David de Gea is fit and available to play against PSG after being substituted with a knee injury during Sunday’s game at Southampton.
“David trained well today, so he is available for selection,” Solskjaer said. “When the Champions League nights come and floodlights are on, even though the fans are not there, the players all want to be there. The training group today was a massive one and everyone has held their hand up and is available for selection.”