Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has apologised for the social media message he posted following his match-winning performance at Southampton on Sunday.
The Uruguay international inspired United’s comeback 3-2 victory over Southampton with two goals and an assist after coming off the bench at half-time.
Replying to a message of congratulations on Instagram, Cavani used the Spanish term ‘negrito’, which translates as ‘black’.
The 33-year-old insists he is “completely opposed to racism”, having deleted the post after he had been made aware of the connotations.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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 also issued a short statement backing Cavani.
“It is clear to us that there was absolutely no malicious intent behind Edinson’s message and he deleted it as soon as he was informed that it could be misconstrued,” it read.
“Edinson has issued an apology for any unintentional offence caused. Manchester United and all of our players are fully committed to the fight against racism.”
The Football Association – which is aware of the matter and will investigate – issued guidelines ahead of this season clamping down on racist and discriminatory language and behaviour, with offences on social media carrying a minimum three-game ban.
Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out released a statement regarding Cavani’s post and again called for overseas players to be educated on language which may cause offence in the UK.
“We are aware of a comment made last night on social media by Edinson Cavani that, in its native tongue, can be offensive in some contexts,” it read.
“We understand that the FA is investigating and the club and player are co-operating with that investigation. We await the outcome of that investigation.
“As we have said before, we believe that it would be helpful for overseas players, coming to England, to have routine education on language that may be unacceptable in this country.”
Giving his thoughts on the matter at a press conference held by BT Sport, former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott said: “Everyone talks about the educational policy and protocol when it comes to racism, and this is an opportunity.
“I don’t think we should allow players to come into the league and use terminology used and deemed OK in their cultures – it’s not acceptable here regardless.
“I’m not singling out Cavani – I think we’ve seen it before. (City’s) Bernardo Silva had an incident as well (last season).
“It’s an opportunity for the FA, the Premier League, whoever it may be to educate people on arrival of terms and things we can and can’t say here.
“We don’t let players hide behind the fact they drive on a different side of the road when they arrive here, they have to adhere to our laws, and I think the kind of ruling in place is not acceptable at the moment. I think as governing bodies they need to look at it.”
Lescott added: “I don’t think he (Cavani) meant any kind of real offence, but there are going to be people who find that offensive so there obviously has to be some kind of explanation towards him.”
Former United defender Wes Brown said: “I can’t really tell you how people speak to you in South America. I know this has happened a few times now.
“Sometimes when you are speaking to friends things can get taken out of proportion. We just have to wait to see what happens there.”
The former Paris St Germain forward moved to Old Trafford in the summer on a free transfer and scored his first Premier League goal in the recent win at Everton.
He was introduced at half-time at Southampton with United trailing 2-0, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes to pull one back before equalising himself and heading home a stoppage-time winner.
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