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, but his actions online after quickly took the sheen off.
The Uruguayan striker scored two important goals for the Red Devils on Sunday November 29, including an injury-time winner, and 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.
However, a punishment will only be meted out once the FA has looked into the matter and if they decided to charge the player after assessing the circumstances.
While Cavani deleted the post relatively quickly and apologised, that does not necessarily mean he will avoid sanction, though it would be taken into account in any investigation.
Manchester City star Bernardo Silva was banned for one game and fined £50,000 ($64k) by the FA in 2019 for a racially insensitive tweet which was directed at his team-mate Benjamin Mendy.
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.
The FA rule that may be applicable in Cavani’s case is Rule E.3., which relates specifically to players’ conduct and general behaviour.
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.