Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been formally charged with misconduct by the English Football Association over a social media post in which he referred to a friend as “negrito.”

The Uruguayan was responding to congratulations on Instagram after his two-goal heroics helped United to a 3-2 Premier League win against Southampton at the end of November.

Writing in his native Spanish, the 33-year-old star replied to one friend with the message ‘gracias negrito’, which translates as ‘thank you, little black one’. 

The former Paris Saint-Germain forward deleted the post and later apologized after he was accused of using racially insensitive language. 

The FA has now confirmed charges against Cavani, who is facing a ban and a fine. 

“Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on 29 November 2020,” an FA statement read. 

“It is alleged that, contrary to FA Rule E3.1, a comment posted on the Manchester United FC player’s Instagram page was insulting and/or abusive and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.

“It is further alleged that the comment constitutes an “Aggravated Breach”, which is defined in FA Rule E3.2, as it included reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin.

“The striker has until Monday 4 January 2021 to provide a response to the charge.”

READ MORE: ‘Pandering to the PC brigade’: Manchester Utd star Edinson Cavani forced to apologize for ‘negrito’ social media post

In his initial apology, Cavani had asserted that he had meant no offense with the phrase, which is used as a term of endearment in his homeland. 

“The message I posted after the game on Sunday was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend, thanking him,” said the forward. 

“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 apologize.”

Manchester United had also backed the star, saying 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.

“Manchester United and all of our players are fully committed to the fight against racism.”

The club have said they will offer “cultural context” in defense of Cavani’s case. 

Meanwhile, a number of fans reacted angrily to the news, accusing the FA of imposing values onto Cavani’s culture, where the term would not broadly be considered racist. 

Charged for racism over using words in his own language and culture where it’s not racist, some may call that….racist? 🤷🏼‍♂️

That’ll teach him for daring to speak his native tongue.Let this be a lesson to all non English speakers. We will find you, and we will fine you.

Literally making something over nothing

Others, however, have backed a ban and a fine against Cavani. Watford hero Troy Deeney has claimed the FA should make an example of the forward and ban him for more than three games over the message. 

Cultural context may not help Cavani’s case with the FA, who have been quick to jump on any perceived racism in social media output from players.

Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva and Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Dele Alli were both handed one-match suspensions last season for posts that breached FA rules.

Portuguese star Silva was slapped on the wrist for posting and then deleting a tweet comparing Man City teammate Benjamin Mendy to a cartoon figure on a brand of Spanish chocolate.

Spurs ace Alli was banned and fined for a video filmed at an airport lounge in which he was seen wearing a mask before zooming in on an Asian man in the background with the caption ‘Corona whatttt’.