(Reuters) - Manager Pep Guardiola has offered another impassioned defence of Bernardo Silva after the Manchester City midfielder faced accusations of racism over a deleted tweet relating to teammate Benjamin Mendy.
Silva posted a tweet on Sunday comparing Mendy to a character in the logo for Conguitos, a brand of confectionary popular in Spain and Portugal, but deleted it an hour later.
City boss Guardiola defended Bernardo in midweek, which led to widespread criticism of the manager as well. But Guardiola has again backed with Silva, describing him as an “exceptional person”.
“If the people believe Bernardo is this type of person they are completely wrong. They judge one joke - I judge three years with him,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.
“Bernardo, or anyone else in my squad, do these things for a joke. Benjamin is like a brother to Bernardo, that is what I see every single day here.”
Anti-racism body Kick It Out condemned Silva’s actions saying racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’, while the Football Association has written to City requesting their observations.
British media reported Silva has submitted a personal latter to the FA expressing regret at any unintentional offence his tweet caused, while Mendy wrote a supporting statement.
Guardiola was asked he if understood why Silva has come under criticism for the tweet.
“If someone is affected or feels bad about that tweet or any comments, it can happen,” he said. “He is an exceptional person.
“Focus on other issues, not Bernardo. It was just a joke. The same happened a thousand times with white people. It was a cartoon.
“If someone is offended I can understand it. Bernardo is maybe going to take a lesson and it won’t happen again.”
City, currently second in the Premier League with 13 points from six matches, visit 14th-placed Everton on Saturday.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra