Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been hit with an FA misconduct charge following a social media post last month.
The Uruguayan striker now faces a potential ban after replying to a message of congratulations on Instagram, Cavani used the Spanish term 'negrito', which translates as 'black'.
United stressed that the word was clearly used in an affectionate manner and has different connotations in South America, where Cavani is from.
The player himself promptly deleted the post and issued an apology.
However, an FA statement on Thursday declared: "Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on Thursday 29 November 2020.
"It is alleged that, contrary to FA Rule E3.1, a comment posted on the Manchester United FC player’s Instagram page was insulting and/or abusive and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.
"It is further alleged that the comment constitutes an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3.2, as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin.
"The striker has until Monday 4 January 2021 to provide a response to the charge."
United issued a statement in response to the charge which read: “Manchester United and all of our players are fully committed to the fight against racism and we will continue to work with the FA – along with other governing bodies and organisations, and through our own campaigns – in that regard.
“We note the FA decision today to charge Edinson Cavani for his social media reply to a friend’s message of congratulations, following the Southampton game.
“Edinson and the club were clear that there was absolutely no malicious intent behind the message, which he deleted and apologised for, as soon as he was informed that it could have been misconstrued.
“The player and the club will now consider the charge and respond to the FA accordingly.”
Cavani, who posted the message on November 29, following a match-winning two goal salvo against Southampton, apologised for his post on November 30.
He said: “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 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.”
FA sanctioning guidelines for match-based aggravated breaches of Rule E3 recommend a six to 12-match ban in almost all such cases, but regulatory commissions are allowed to apply a sanction below that standard range where an offence is ‘in writing only or via any communication device’ and another specific mitigating factor is present.
The mandatory minimum where a charge is proven or accepted is three matches.
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