The English Football Association panel banned Edinson Cavani for three matches despite accepting the Manchester United striker was not racist and had not known his language was offensive.
Cavani hadn’t been in England long in October when he posted a public message to a friend on Instagram using a Spanish term for Black people which he said was intended as an affectionate greeting.
The full findings of the FA regulatory commission were published on Thursday, explaining why the Uruguayan received the minimum three-game suspension in the regulations.
“The commission were satisfied that the player wrote his reply in affectionate appreciation of a message from his Uruguayan friend and that it was not designed or intended to be racist or offensive either to his friend or others reading the content of the Instagram post,” the three-person FA commission said.
“Such a conclusion was supported by all the available evidence relevant to the circumstances in which the post was made and having regard to the character and response of the player…. However, it is not sufficient that the player simply had no such intent.”
The FA argued that “a follower of English Premier League football would have understandably concluded that the words used were racially offensive.”
After being released by Paris Saint-Germain, Cavani had been living in England for only a couple of months when the message was posted.
The FA accepted he had not been “sufficiently exposed to the language and culture of this country so as to allow him to have understood that words that were affectionate and unoffensive in his native language, were unquestionably offensive in this country.”
But the FA commission expressed surprise about United’s lack of media training for a new signing who did not speak English “to be better placed to understand the cultural differences that might give rise to issues with a foreign player posting information on a social media platform.”
Cavani will serve the third game of his ban on Saturday when United plays Watford in the FA Cup. Cavani was also fined 100,000 pounds (then $136,500) and ordered to complete face-to-face education.
There has been an outcry over the punishment from Uruguayans, including players Luis Suarez and Diego Godin.
The Uruguayan players’ union said the FA, not Cavani, committed a “discriminatory and racist act” because the ban punishes “our whole culture, our way of life.” The union urged the FA to review its disciplinary processes “to take into account the plurality of people’s ways of life and cultures.”