Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Uruguayan striker bursts onto the Premier League for a team in red that plays in the northwest of the country, gets in hot water for using the term “negrito,” claims it is a term of endearment where he’s from, and then might get suspended anyway while his club stands behind him.
Has a familiar ring, no?
That’s where Edinson Cavani finds himself today. After introducing himself fully to the league yesterday with a two-goal, one-assist performance that dragged Manchester United’s dead ass from 2-0 down in the first half to a 3-2 comeback win, Cavani used the term in a since-deleted instagram message to a follower. The FA is investigating, and Cavani can look forward to some kind of suspension. That’s because both Bernardo Silva of Manchester City and Dele Alli of Tottenham have received suspension for fucking up on social media in recent months.
If you’re not familiar with time flat-circling in this instance, or just need a refresher, Luis Suarez used the same term — and the same defense — when he was suspended eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011. Liverpool at the time stood behind Suarez, vociferously objected to his suspension, and then only apologized to Evra as a club nine years later.
So it is a little curious that Manchester United have chosen the route of staunch defense of Cavani here, given the similarities, though not total, of the two cases. And seeing as how Cavani and Suarez have been international teammates with Uruguay for over a decade, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t somewhat aware of Suarez’s incident, though obviously not thinking about it at the moment he hit the send button.
The differences are clear, as well. While Cavani was just conversing with a follower on Insta, there was at least some element of malice in Suarez’s actions, given that both players were in the middle of perhaps the most hotly contested rivalry in the league. Certainly the Premier League thought so, given the severity of the suspension. Still, ignorance of how the term could be interpreted in the country of one’s employment wasn’t a defense for Suarez, and it’s likely it won’t be one for Cavani that the FA will take at full value. Suarez was also already a controversial figure, having arrived in England on the back of his first suspension for biting (the phrase “first suspension for biting” really causes you to take a step back and contemplate) and his diving and other antics already had him as the pantomime villain. Cavani carries none of that baggage.
Were Cavani to get a multi-game suspension in the Premier League, he would miss the Manchester Derby on December 12th. United will be hoping that’s not the case.