Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has defended Bernardo Silva in the race row that has erupted over his alleged racist tweet to Benjamin Mendy.
Silva tweeted a picture of Mendy as a young boy alongside a cartoon character from a packet of sweets called Conguitos, however charity Kick It Out described the tweet as a ‘racist stereotype’ and the FA confirmed they had written to City for their comments.
But Guardiola has stated that Silva is an open-minded and exceptional individual, and that the tweet was not about Mendy’s skin colour. “Bernardo is one of most lovely people I ever met in my life,” Guardiola said. “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.”
And Guardiola spoke about the response from the full-back, who responded with laughing emojis and the comment ‘1-0 to you.’ “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.”
And Liverpool legend Barnes also backed Silva, stating the tweet was not racist and described the accusations as ridiculous. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it,” Barnes told Sky Sports. “It’s ridiculous. It’s a cartoon, and in many respects I’ve seen it, and I think he looks like a young Mendy. I don’t see what the issue is. This has got nothing to do with racism. They are friends. Regardless of whether it looks like Mendy or not, why is that offensive?
“Are Kick It Out and the FA wrong? Yes.” And Barnes questioned Kick It Out’s comments that the tweet was ‘racial stereotyping.’ “Showing a caricature of a little black boy, and a real black boy, how is that racial stereotyping? He did not show the cartoon, all he did was put up two pictures. If he talked about the cartoon they [the FA and Kick It Out] can then say, ‘yes that’s discriminatory’. It’s just a picture of two people and some may argue they look alike.
“As friends they probably have banter like that. If they say why they think it is discriminatory, then maybe I will have a different opinion, but it cannot be discriminatory by just looking at those two pictures and saying it’s racist.”
New laws introduced by the FA last year means Silva could face a fine or suspension if the FA decide to charge him, with a minimum six game ban if he is found guilty of racist abuse.