Edinson Cavani: FA criticises Man Utd for lack of 'training' amid Instagram post charge
The Football Association has criticised Manchester United for not providing any cultural and media “training” to Edinson Cavani following his arrival at Old Trafford, after the forward was charged for an Instagram post.
Cavani, 33, was banned for three matches and fined £100,000 by the FA after sharing an Instagram story from a fan which included a racially offensive term after United’s 3-2 win at Southampton on November 29, in which Cavani scored twice. The post was later deleted and Cavani apologised.
The forward, who joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on Deadline Day during the last transfer window, must also complete face-to-face education as part of the punishment handed out by the FA.
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Cavani missed United’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day as well as the 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final, and the Uruguay international will also sit out of Saturday’s clash in the FA Cup third round against Watford.
“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,” an FA statement read.
The FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission added that no part of the FA case suggested Cavani deliberately acted with racist intent, but instead the Commission focused on the angle of a follower of English Premier League football who would have understandably concluded that the words used were racially offensive.
English football’s governing body also instructed a Latin American expert to offer his verdict as part of their case.
Professor David Wood said whilst the word used by Cavani on Instagram is commonly used in South America to refer to a male who is of colour, someone familiar with South American culture and language could also have understood that in the context of friends it was not used with the intention to be racist, insulting or offensive.
The professor added that English native speakers unfamiliar with South American culture would be likely to take offence to the words used.
Cavani told the panel he was simply spontaneously responding affectionately to a good friend by his nickname. His friend, Pablo Fernandez, provided a video statement confirming that this was his lifelong nickname.
Similar cases in the past were of “very limited assistance” in this case because the revised provisions for the 2020/21 season outline a standard minimum sanction of six games for this type of offence.
The panel decided they had to act so as not to distract in any way from the common wish to tackle discrimination in the game.
However, it was decided there were mitigating circumstances to reduce the sanction to three games – namely Cavani’s good disciplinary record, his remorse, deleting the message, and the individual’s willingness to understand the cultural differences going forward.
United: FA has charged Cavani regardless of context and intent
Manchester United have told Sky Sports News that the club is pleased that the Commission acknowledged that Cavani’s post demonstrated no racist or offensive intent to his friend or other Instagram users and that there were no discriminatory motives on the part of the player.
United and the player have consistently expressed support for the fight against racism and out of respect for that, Cavani chose not to contest the charge, the club added.
The club believes it is clear that this case is unique, that it was an honest mistake, and that given context and intent, it should not have resulted in a charge. However, it stressed that the way the FA applies its rules means that they will charge regardless of context and intent.
United have reiterated that it believes the fine should go directly towards anti-racism projects and initiatives.
Regarding Cavani’s media training, United have said that the forward arrived at the club (in October) and needed to quarantine straight away due to Covid-19 protocols.
According to the club, this disrupted normal orientation activities that would usually have included media training, and unfortunately, the incident occurred before this had been re-arranged.
The club has added that it is unrealistic to expect that media training with players can include every possible interpretation of every word or phrase in each language.
United, who achieved the Premier League Advanced Equality Standard in 2019, also recently announced that it would be equipping 1000 young people in Manchester with equality, diversity, and inclusion knowledge as part of an ongoing collaboration with anti-racism charity Kick It Out.
The FA’s written reasons come after the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association released a statement on Monday accusing the FA of being discriminatory towards Uruguay’s culture because of Cavani’s punishment.
The statement was shared on social media by several high-profile Uruguay internationals including Luis Suarez, Lucas Torreira and Diego Godin.
CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, has also expressed “solidarity” with the forward.
In addition, Kick It Out’s chair Sanjay Bhandari has told Sky Sports News that Cavani’s actions carried no ulterior motives, but stressed that further education is needed concerning cultural differences for players coming from overseas to play in English football.
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