Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes it would be a mistake for the Football Association (FA) to punish Bernardo Silva over a deleted tweet in which the midfielder compared teammate Benjamin Mendy to a cartoon character.
Silva posted a tweet on Sunday likening Mendy to a character in the logo for Conguitos, a brand of confectionary popular in Spain and Portugal but deleted it an hour later.
The 25-year-old Portuguese posted a second tweet that said “can’t even joke with a friend these days… you guys” but anti-racism body Kick It Out condemned his actions saying racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’.
British media reported the FA had written to the Premier League champions seeking an explanation. “If they want to do that and ask for Bernardo, he’ll be open to talking,” Guardiola told reporters after City beat second-tier Preston North End 3-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday.
“But first, you have to know exactly which person you are talking about. If something happens it will be a mistake because Bernardo is an exceptional person. “It’s nothing to do with the colour of skin or nationality.”
Guardiola looked to further play down the incident, saying that Mendy had not taken offence to the tweet. “There are many situations with white people where a cartoon will look similar. The response from Mendy was clear. They are joking all the time,” Guardiola added.
“Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I’ve met in my life. He speaks four or five languages— that’s the best way to understand how open-minded he is.
“One of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and related it with this cartoon, quite similar for the image.”