The Football Association has been accused by South American football’s governing body, CONMEBOL, of causing damage to Edinson Cavani’s reputation, after the Manchester United striker was banned for three matches for using an offensive term on social media.

The ex-Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain forward was suspended for using the racial term “n*****o” in an Instagram post, shortly after he inspired his side to a Premier League win over Southampton in December. The word is commonly used affectionately in his home country of Uruguay and other Spanish speaking nations, but is considered offensive elsewhere.

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Cavani apologised and deleted the post for the misunderstanding, and he subsequently accepted the FA’s sanction, as did United. He was also fined £100,000 and instructed to take an education course.

But since then, the Uruguayan Football Players' Association has accused the FA of “a discriminatory act against the culture and way of life of Uruguayan people”, and CONMEBOL has now followed that up with its own defence of Cavani.

In a statement, the confederation said: "CONMEBOL expresses its solidarity with the player Edinson Cavani, sanctioned by the Football Association of England.

"The disciplinary measure for the outstanding player from the Uruguayan team clearly does not consider the cultural characteristics and the use of certain terms in everyday speech in Uruguay.

The judgment of these types of statements, within the framework of a process that can lead to penalties for the athlete and that affect his reputation and good name, must always be carried out taking into account the context in which they were made and, above all, cultural peculiarities of each player and each country

"CONMEBOL condemns and will always condemn with the greatest energy any racist or discriminatory manifestation, but the specific case for which Cavani was sanctioned does not constitute one of them."

Cavani has already started his ban by missing the 2-1 Premier League win over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, and he’ll also sit out Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final with Manchester City and United’s FA Cup tie with Watford.

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