Edinson Cavani will miss Manchester United’s next three games (Picture: Getty)

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani has apologised and thanked fans for their messages of support after he was handed a three-match suspension for using a racial term in a recent social media post.

Cavani, 33, responded to a friend’s congratulatory message on Instagram after his match-winning brace in United’s 3-2 victory over Southampton and referred to the said individual as ‘negrito’, which is often used affectionately in South America to describe a person with dark skin or hair.

The Uruguay international – who joined the Red Devils on a free transfer in the summer – deleted the post after being informed it could cause offence and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has repeatedly defended him in the weeks that have passed, insisting the player was unaware of the connotations of the word.

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The Football Association confirmed on Thursday that Cavani had been slapped with a three-game ban after charging the veteran attacker with ‘misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3′.

Cavani will therefore miss United’s clashes with Aston Villa (Premier League), Manchester City (Carabao Cup) and Watford (FA Cup) and has also been fined £100,000.

The striker has been fined £100,000 (Picture: Getty)

In a statement a few hours later, Cavani reached out to those offended by his Instagram post with an apology but said his ‘heart is at peace’ as he was acting according to his ‘culture and way of life’.

‘Hello everyone. I do not want to extend much in this uncomfortable moment for me. I want to share with you that I accept the disciplinary sanction knowing that I am foreign to English language customs, but I do not share the point of view,’ he posted on Twitter.

‘I apologise if I offended someone with an expression of affection towards a friend, nothing further in my intention. Those who know me know that my effort always seeks the simplest joy and friendship!

‘I appreciate the countless expressions of support and affection.

‘My heart is at peace, because I know that I always expressed myself with affection according to my culture and way of life. I send you a sincere hug.’

An earlier statement from United, read: ‘As he has stated, Edinson Cavani wasn’t aware that his words could have been misconstrued and he sincerely apologised for the post and to anyone who was offended.

‘Despite his honest belief that he was simply sending an affectionate thank-you in response to a congratulatory message from a close friend, he chose not to contest the charge, out of respect for, and solidarity with, the FA and the fight against racism in football.

‘While it is clear that context and intent are key factors, we note that the independent Regulatory Commission was required to impose a minimum three-game suspension.

‘The club trusts that the independent Regulatory Commission will make it clear in its written reasons that Edinson Cavani is not a racist, nor was there any racist intent in relation to his post.’

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