The Uruguayan Academy of Letters on Friday denounced a three-game ban given to Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani on Friday, calling the sanction for alleged racism an example of English football’s lack of “cultural and linguistic knowledge.”
The 33-year-old Uruguayan used the word “negrito” in an Instagram post after the club’s victory over Southampton on Nov. 29, before taking it down and apologising. He said it was intended as an expression of affection to a friend.
On Thursday the FA said the comment was “improper and brought the game into disrepute”, fined Cavani 100,000 pounds and ordered him to complete “face-to-face education” as part of his punishment.
The academy, an association dedicated to protecting and promoting the Spanish language used in Uruguay, said it “energetically rejected the sanction.”
“The English Football Association has committed a serious injustice with the Uruguayan sportsman … and has shown its ignorance and error in ruling on the use of language, and in particular Spanish, without noting all its complexities and contexts,” the academy said in a statement.
“In the context that it was written, the only value that can be given to negrito – and particularly because of the diminutive use – is affectionately.”
Words referring to skin colour, weight and other physical characteristics are often used among friends and relations in Latin America, especially in the diminutive, the academy said.
In that context they are expressions of tenderness and are often used independently of the subject’s appearance.
United said Cavani chose not to contest the charge out of respect for the FA and the “fight against racism in football”.
“My heart is at peace because I know that I always expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life,” he wrote on Instagram.