Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has vehemently defended midfielder Bernardo Silva over allegations of racism, which stem from a tweet Silva sent on Sunday.
The tweet featured a childhood picture of Silva’s teammate, Benjamin Mendy, next to a stereotypically racist cartoon of a black child — which is also somehow the logo for Spanish candy company Conguitos.
The tweet has since been deleted, but was captured in a screenshot and reposted on Twitter.
The Football Association has been alerted to the tweet, and has contacted Manchester City for a response. Guardiola gave his opinion about Silva’s situation to the Guardian on Tuesday after City beat Preston 3-0.
“I don’t know what is going to happen but they [the FA] should put the focus on other issues because they don’t know which guy you are talking about. Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I have ever met in my life.
“He speaks four or five languages – that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is – and one of his best friends is Mendy. He is like a brother for him. The image for the two 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 …
“If they [the FA] want to do that, to ask Bernardo, we’d be open to talk, but first to do that you have to know exactly which person are you 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 it is what I said many times and my advice is not to use social media too much. If something happens it would be a mistake because Bernardo is an exceptional person.”
Mendy did respond to Silva’s (now deleted) tweet, and didn’t seem offended.
😂😂😂 1-0👏🏾 for you will see— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) September 22, 2019
After Silva deleted the original tweet, he posted an additional tweet, expressing frustration with the response he’d received.
Can’t even joke with a friend these days... You guys... 🤦🏻♂️— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) September 22, 2019
Just a suggestion, but jokes between friends about skin color probably shouldn’t be posted on a public social media site where they can be seen by others.
Kick It Out, English soccer’s equality and inclusion organization, has demanded action. Via the Guardian:
“We are extremely disappointed to see the tweet posted by Bernardo Silva, which has since been deleted.
“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’, and we’re shocked that someone who is a role model to millions has failed to understand the discriminatory nature of his post.
“The FA have been notified and we believe that retrospective action should be taken, including mandatory education – which is vital to challenge offensive behaviour such as this.”
The FA recently instituted a six-game minimum ban for racist abuse during a match, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to social media. Silva is likely facing some kind of ban, depending on the outcome of the FA’s investigation, but it’s unclear how long it might be.
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