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SPORTS | 04-01-2021 15:39

Uruguayan players' union slams English FA for Cavani 'racism' ban

Uruguayan Football Players' Association launches scathing attack on the English Football Association for banning Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani over use of 'negrito' in a social media post.

The Uruguayan Football Players' Association (AFU) launched a scathing attack on the English Football Association (FA) on Monday for banning Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani over a social media post the governing body ruled was in breach of anti-racism rules.

Cavani posted a message on Instagram shortly after scoring twice in United's 3-2 win over Southampton where he thanked a friend for his congratulations using the commonly used Spanish term "negrito" (roughly "small black person").

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker swiftly deleted the post and issued an apology after being made aware of the connotations in English, with the player releasing an apologetic statement saying he was "completely opposed to racism."

That did not stop the FA imposing a three-match ban and a £100,000 (US$137,000) fine.

The FA found the comment was "insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute," and constituted "an 'aggravated breach'... as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin."

The sanction has sparked outrage in Uruguay with the country's Spanish language academy saying the FA had made a "questionable resolution" as a result of its "poverty of cultural and linguistic knowledge."

On Friday, Uruguay's Academia Nacional de Letras said the words "negro" or its diminutive "negrito" – similar to "gordo" (fatso) or "gordito" and "flaco" (skinny one) –  are commonly used as terms of endearment.

"In the Spanish of Uruguay, for example, in couples or among friends, between parents and children, one often hears and reads expressions such as... gordito, negri, negrito..." the academy said in a statement. "In fact, a person so addressed is not necessarily overweight or dark-skinned."

The academy issued its "strongest rejection" of the sanctioning of Cavani, and said the federation's "questionable resolution" was the result of "poverty of cultural and linguistic knowledge."

In a lengthy statement the AFU went further, accusing the FA themselves of racism for not acknowledging the context.

"Unfortunately through this sanction the English Football Association expresses absolute ignorance and disdain for a multicultural vision of the world," said the AFU. 

"It has not just punished one person, but also a whole culture, our way of life, which is truly a discriminatory and racist act."

Cavani has already served one match of his suspension in United's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Friday. But the AFU still called for it to be overturned to clear his name from a racism charge.

"We request the FA to immediately overturn the sanction imposed on Edinson Cavani and reinstate the good name and honour in the world that has been so unfairly tarnished by this reprehensible decision."

The AFU statement has been widely shared by prominent players such as Atlético Madrid striker Luis Suárez, who himself was at the centre of a racism storm during his time in England with Liverpool.


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