Pep Guardiola has defended Bernardo Silva against allegations of racism after the Football Association asked for Manchester City‘s observations on one of the player’s deleted tweets.
Bernardo compared team-mate Benjamin Mendy to the mascot of Spanish confectionery brand Conguitos on Sunday, in a post that was condemned by many Twitter users as offensive. The post was subsequently deleted.
Mendy appeared to take the tweet in good humour, but Bernardo faces a potential six-game ban if the governing body decides to charge him.
Kick It Out, the anti-racism body, described Bernardo’s tweet as “discriminatory” but Guardiola claimed his player is an “exceptional” and “open-minded” individual and “one of the most lovely people I ever met in my life”.
Guardiola claimed the image of a young Mendy and the mascot was “quite simlar” and that it was “not about the colour of his skin”.
“Honestly, I don’t know what will happen,” the City manager said. “They should put their focus on another issue because they don’t know which guy you are talking about.
“Bernardo is one of most lovely people I ever met in my life. He speaks four or five languages and that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is and one of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother for him.
“The image is not about the colour of the skin. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and he related it to this cartoon, which was quite similar for the image.
“Honestly, I don’t think what happened about that. If they want to do that and ask for Bernardo, I think he will be open to talk. But first you have to know exactly which person you are talking about.
“There are many situations with people, with white people and you look at a cartoon and the face is quite similar as your face and you put it in there, it is quite similar.
“I think the response from Mendy was clear after that. They are joking all the time. Maybe what I say as advice is to hide social media… if something happened it would be a mistake.
“Bernardo is an exceptional person. A guy who can speak five languages, it’s because he’s open-minded – nothing about the colour of the skin, nationalities or whatever.”