Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani could face a three-game ban if the Football Federation believes he used discriminatory or racist language in an Instagram story shared from his account on Sunday night.
The FA have confirmed they are investigating the post, which came out shortly after United’s 3-2 win over Southampton, in which Cavani scored two goals after being a half-time substitute.
In the message – which was later deleted – the words “gracias negrito!” are used to thank a disciple congratulating Cavani on his performance at the game at St. Mary’s.
Social media posts are covered by FA Rule E3, and if a comment is deemed to include a reference to a person’s ethnicity, color, race or nationality, then this will be considered a potential aggravating factor of any sanction. The rules also make it clear that owners of social media accounts are responsible for any content posted from their account, whether by themselves or by a third party.
In addition, deleting an inappropriate message does not necessarily prevent the imposition of a sanction. Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was banned for one game last year after posting and then deleting a tweet comparing teammate Benjamin Mendy to the cartoon figure on a Spanish chocolate brand. If the FA decides to pursue the case, it will write to Cavani in the coming days asking for his written submissions. All charges must be issued by next Monday.
The word in question – “negrito” – was the same one used by Cavani’s friend and Uruguayan teammate Luis Suárez to Patrice Evra during a game between Liverpool and Manchester United in 2011. At the time, Suárez argued that the word was a term of affection. and not intended as a form of racial abuse. However, the FA disciplinary panel rejected this explanation and Suárez was banned for eight matches.
Earlier this season, the FA released new guidelines on racist language and behavior on social media, with offenses punishable by a minimum three-match ban. Manchester United were unavailable for comment on Sunday evening.