The FA have explained their reasoning in handing Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani a three-game ban and a £100,000 fine following his social media post which included a Spanish word that is considered racist in other languages.
Cavani used the word to thank his friend for a message of support after he inspired Manchester United to a 3-2 comeback victory over Southampton in November with two goals from the bench.
The Uruguayan forward deleted the post and apologised after he was made aware that the term could be interpreted as racist.
The FA have released the regulatory commission report for Cavani’s case, which details the reasoning for the forward’s sanction.
The use of the term breaches FA Rule E3: the use of indecent or insulting words with express or implied reference to ethnic origin, colour or race.
Such a breach would usually result in a ban of six to 12 games. However the FA concluded that Cavani’s message was not “intended to be racist or offensive either to his friend or others reading the content of the Instagram post.”
As the offence was committed using a communications device (as opposed to the word being spoken aloud), and as there was no intent to be discriminatory or offensive, a six game plus ban would have been deemed ‘excessive’.
The FA took into account the fact that Spanish speaking Cavani has never previously lived in an English speaking country, and has received no media training since moving to Old Trafford in October 2020 specific to living in the UK.
However, they also added that Cavani could have privately responded to his friends message, but opted to post publicly to his 7.9m Instagram followers. Though the United man had no intent to offend, this is not how each of his followers may have interpreted the term.
“A reasonable observer with no understanding of South American cultural norms in respect of the use of the word and with no understanding of the relationship between the Player and his close friend, would inevitably consider the words used by the Player to be of a kind infringing Rule E3(2),” the report added.
“A follower of English Premier League football would have understandably concluded that the words used were racially offensive.”