(REUTERS) - Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has been charged with an aggravated breach of the Football Association's (FA) rules for using the word "negrito" in an Instagram post last month.
The 33-year-old Uruguayan had apologised for the post, which he sent after his team beat Southampton 3-2 away in the English Premier League on Nov 29, saying it was an affectionate greeting to a friend who had congratulated him on scoring a brace.
"Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct... in relation to a social media post on Thursday Nov 29, 2020," the FA said in a statement.
"It is alleged that... a comment posted on the Manchester United FC player's Instagram page was insulting and/or abusive and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.
"It is further alleged that the comment constitutes an 'Aggravated Breach'... as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin."
United issued a statement defending the striker, saying there was no malicious intent behind Cavani's message.
"Manchester United and all of our players are fully committed to the fight against racism and we will continue to work with the FA... in that regard," the club said.
"Edinson and the club were clear that there was absolutely no malicious intent behind the message, which he deleted and apologised for, as soon as he was informed that it could have been misconstrued.
"The player and the club will now consider the charge and respond to the FA accordingly."
Cavani, who is back in training after a muscle injury but is still doubtful for United's Premier League trip to Sheffield United on Thursday (Dec 17), has until Jan 4 to respond to the charge.