Luis Suarez and Diego Godin are among the Uruguay soccer players backing calls for the English Football Association to reverse its decision to ban Edinson Cavani for using a Spanish term for Black people which the Manchester United striker said was intended as an affectionate greeting.
Godin posted a statement from the Uruguayan players’ union that said the English FA, not Cavani, has committed a “discriminatory and racist act” because the three-game suspension punishes “our whole culture, our way of life.”
“Unfortunately, through its sanction, the English Football Association expresses absolute ignorance and disdain for a multicultural vision of the world,” read a statement by the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association, which was shared by Suarez and Godin on Monday.
Suarez, a striker for Atlético Madrid, added a fist bump emoji when he posted Godin’s tweet.
The players’ union statement urged the English FA to review its disciplinary processes “to take into account the plurality of people’s ways of life and cultures,” and overturn the sanction on Cavani that it says has tarnished his reputation.
Cavani was also fined 100,000 pounds ($136,500) and ordered to complete face-to-face education after admitting to breaching the FA’s rules in the message he sent to a friend on Instagram after scoring twice in United’s 3-2 victory at Southampton in October in the Premier League.
The FA said the comment was “insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute” and also was an “aggravated breach” because it “included reference, whether express or implied, to color and/or race and/or ethnic origin.”
Cavani, who has already served one match of the ban, apologized soon after sending the message and didn’t contest the charge “out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football,” United said.
He did say, however, that his “heart is at peace” over his message in which he “expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life.”
Among the players to react following the announcement of Cavani’s ban was United’s Argentine defender, Marcos Rojo, who replied to his teammate on Instagram: “Those who know you know the kind of person you are !!!”
The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) also said it supported Cavani, calling him “a person of unattackable morals and ethics.”
“The analysis of the event that ended in a disciplinary process and in an imposed sanction has deserved unanimous rebuke from those that apply the most basic criteria of cultural contextualization and meaning of the expressions said in Spanish language,” the AUF said.
The English FA didn’t respond directly to the accusations of the Uruguayan players’ union, instead repeating the reasons why Cavani was punished.
The FA said the written reasons for the sanction imposed by the independent regulatory commission will be published in due course.
Suarez was banned by the English FA for eight matches in 2011 — when he was a Liverpool player — after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. He was said to have used “insulting words” in Spanish, which included a reference to Evra’s color, in an on-field spat during a Premier League match at Anfield.
The statement released by Godin, a defender for Cagliari in Italy, was not signed by individual players and did not include contact information. It was dated Jan. 3.