Cavani ready for 'special' PSG game

LONDON • Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Edinson Cavani following the striker's Instagram post, which appeared to use a racist term.

After United's 3-2 comeback Premier League win over Southampton on Sunday, when the Uruguayan scored a brace and provided an assist, he used the Spanish term "negrito" (small black person) on Instagram in thanking a friend for his congratulations.

Despite the affectionate context, he could still fall foul of the Football Association's (FA) minimum three-match domestic ban for offensive comments on social media. But the 33-year-old, who has since deleted the post, will be free to play against his former club Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League today.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference yesterday, Solskjaer said: "(Edinson) is really sorry for the mistake he's made. No malicious intent at all, just an affectionate greeting. We support him.

"It's one of those unfortunate situations where he's just come into the country and in Uruguay it's been used in a different way.

"He is ready to play and of course it's special for him to play against PSG. He is so professional, and he will work on his mindset today to get ready for the game."

"Negrito" was the same word Cavani's international teammate Luis Suarez used towards Patrice Evra, a French black player, during a game between Liverpool and United in 2011. Suarez argued that the word was a term of endearment and not intended as a form of racial abuse. However, the FA rejected this explanation given the "context of heated exchanges between the players" and Suarez was banned for eight matches.

Solskjaer has also urged his players to get the job done in the Champions League as soon as possible.

"We go out there in our style with attacking intent and defending well against a top team," said the Norwegian, whose side are top of Group H with nine points and need only to avoid defeat to progress to the last 16.

"Our mindset is to win the game and win the group."

David de Gea (knee), Paul Pogba (ankle) and Anthony Martial (illness) are doubts for today's clash but the United boss remained coy about injury updates.

PSG, who are three points behind, have confirmed they are without Pablo Sarabia, Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Juan Bernat, Kays Ruiz and Jese due to injury.

Elsewhere, Sevilla host Chelsea with both sides tied at the top of Group E with 10 points apiece and already through to the next round.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2020, with the headline 'Cavani ready for 'special' PSG game'. Subscribe