The Football Association showed “ignorance and error” in handing out a fine and ban to Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani over alleged racism, according to a group of Spanish language experts.
Cavani was banned for three games and fined £100,000 after making an Instagram post using the word ‘negrito’.
The Uruguay international accepted the disciplinary measures but said his conscience was clear as, from his point of view, the word was a term of affection for a friend.
“I want to share with you that I accept the disciplinary sanction knowing that I am foreign to English language customs, but I do not share the point of view," Cavani posted on Instagram.
"I apologise if I offended someone with an expression of affection towards a friend, nothing further was my intention. Those who know me know that my effort is to always seek the simplest joy and friendship!
"I appreciate the countless expressions of support and affection. My heart is at peace because I know that I always expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life."
Now, The Uruguayan National Academy of Letters - an association of academics and experts on the use of the Spanish language in Uruguay – have strongly criticised the FA, accusing English football’s governing body of “a serious injustice” against Cavani.
“The National Academy of Letters declares its most energetic rejection of the sanction and warns about the lack of cultural knowledge and linguistics that that FA reveals when reaching such a questionable resolution,” the academy said in a statement.
“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.
“In the context that it was written, the only value that can be given to ‘negrito’ – and particularly because of the diminutive use – is affection.”
Cavani served the first game of his suspension on Friday evening as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side went level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
He will also miss the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City and the FA Cup third-round tie with Championship side Watford.