Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani apologized for the social media message he posted after his match-winning performance at Southampton. The Uruguay international-inspired United's comeback 3-2 Premier League victory over the Saints with two goals and an assist after coming off the bench at halftime.
Replying to a message of congratulations on Instagram, Cavani used the Spanish term 'negrito', which translates as 'black', but in Uruguay has no racist implication, rather the contrary, it is a most affectionate greeting. However the 33-year-old pointed out 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 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 English 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 behavior, with offences on social media carrying a minimum three-game ban.
In Uruguay the Association investigation, and possible suspension of Cavani, came as a surprise and annoyance since negrito is a common greeting among family members and friends, and the feminine, negrita implies an even more intimate greeting to a wife, a fiancée, girl friend.
Amparo Fernández, a linguistic professor from the Uruguayan National University, UDELAR in Montevideo said that there is an intent to globalize meanings which is not possible, and loses all of its context circumstances.
Cavani's use of the word is not rationalized at all as a racist insult or impropriety, explained Ms Fernandez. She added that the Uruguayan version of the Royal Spanish Academy Language dictionary with over ten thousand words and expressions of common use in the country, and far from 'orthodox' Spanish, defines 'negro and negrito', among other uses, as a common affectionate, dear, greeting.
Nevertheless, Ms Fernandez also pointed out that Afro-Uruguayans have expressed their discomfort with such expressions, since they understand they could contain a discriminatory significant.
Anyhow the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Language Academy, DRAE, also defines negro/negrito as a show of love among married couples, fiancées or people who love each other, and is used in Andalucía and the River Plate.
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.
Cavani, the former Paris Saint-Germain forward, moved to Old Trafford in the summer on a free transfer and scored his first league goal in the recent win at Everton.