The commission which imposed a three-match ban on Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani over a social media post expressed “surprise” that he had received no media training from the English giants.
Cavani, who joined United in October, posted a message on Instagram shortly after scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Southampton where he thanked a friend Pablo Fernandez for his congratulations using the commonly used Spanish term “negrito” (small black person).
Fernandez provided evidence in the case that “negrito” is his lifelong nickname and a term of endearment he uses towards his son.
The decision to sanction the Uruguayan has been fiercely criticised in South America.
A statement released by the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association on Monday even accused the English Football Association (FA) of racism by bringing the charge.
The three-man independent regulatory commission accepted Cavani had not intended to cause offence, but criticised United for not making their player aware of the cultural differences between his homeland and England.
“In light of the player’s high profile in the game, his inability to speak English and the fact that he had approaching eight million Instagram followers, the commission were surprised that no such ‘training’ had been specifically put in place for the player by his club,” it stated in the written reasons for issuing the ban.
It was the FA’s case that a reasonable observer with no understanding of the South American cultural norms around the word “negrito” would interpret the word as racially offensive.
The commission was satisfied that the post had been sent in “affectionate appreciation” of a friend offering him their congratulations, yet still imposed the ban, a £100,000 fine and ordered Cavani complete an education course as part of his punishment.
South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL have criticised the FA’s disciplinary procedures.
“The judgement of these types of statements, within the framework of a process that can lead to penalties for the athlete and that affect his reputation and good name, must always be carried out taking into account the context in which they were made and, above all, cultural peculiarities of each player and each country,” CONMEBOL said in a statement this week.
Cavani has already served two games of his three-match ban and will miss Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Watford.
Lack of media training blamed for controversial Cavani ban The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ France 24.