Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has been banned for three matches and fined £100,000 for using a racial term in a social media post, the Football Association announced on Thursday.
The 33-year-old summer signing produced a match-winning display at Southampton on November 29, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes before netting a two goals in a 3-2 comeback win.
Cavani posted a social media message on Instagram shortly after the match, replying to a message of congratulations using the Spanish term “negrito” (small black person).
The Uruguayan swiftly deleted the post and issued an apology after being made aware of the connotations, with the player releasing an apologetic statement saying he was “completely opposed to racism”.
But the FA has now punished the striker after he admitted breaching FA Rule E3.
“A comment posted on the Manchester United FC striker’s Instagram page was insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute,” the FA said in a statement.
“The post also constitutes an ‘aggravated breach’... as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin,” the statement added.
Manchester United issued a statement saying Cavani was not aware his words could have been misconstrued and “sincerely apologised” for the post and to anyone who was offended.
“Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football,” the club said.
United said they hoped the independent regulatory commission appointed to decide the sanction would make it clear in its written reasons that the former Paris Saint-Germain player “is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post”.