Former Newcastle United forward Peter Beardsley has been suspended from all football-related activity for 32 weeks for making racist comments to players.
Ex-England man Beardsley called one black player “a monkey” while Newcastle’s Under-23s coach and joked about climbing trees, an independent Football Association panel said.
It added his remarks “were obviously racist and wholly unacceptable”.
Beardsley said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the panel’s findings.
He was charged by the Football Association with three counts of using racist language to players in March and had “categorically denied” the claims.
He left Newcastle after a 14-month club investigation earlier this year.
The FA panel said in its written reasons: “Even if he did not intend to do so, he plainly did cause offence.”
Beardsley, who was capped 59 times by England, has been ordered to complete a face-to-face education course.
However, the panel said it did not believe Beardsley was racist. “We are satisfied that Mr Beardsley is not a racist in the sense of being ill-disposed to persons on grounds of their race or ethnicity,” it said.
“He is now 58 years of age. It is also relevant that he has not had the benefit of training and education about offensive racist remarks and the importance of not making them.”
One of the witnesses to the “monkey” comment” said: “I don’t think Peter meant it as racist, but it came out looking bad as he is a black player.”
The panel did, though, say it had “serious reservations about Mr Beardsley’s credibility”.
One of the aggravating factors in deciding its punishment was that Beardsley had contended that “three of the black players had made up the allegations motivated by financial greed, for which he did not have a shred of evidence”.
As a player, Newcastle-born Beardsley enjoyed two spells at his hometown club, making more than 300 appearances, and also played for Liverpool, Everton, Manchester City, Fulham, Bolton, Hartlepool, Doncaster, Carlisle and Vancouver Whitecaps.