The Manchester City manager insists that Bernardo Silva was not in the wrong, and that joking with his friend and teammate absolves him of criticism for an overtly racist act.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has again insisted that Bernardo Silva should not be criticized for his controversial tweet about teammate Benjamin Mendy.
Silva compared Mendy to the mascot of Spanish chocolate brand Conguitos, which drew plenty of criticism and allegations of racism. However, when asked about the incident, Guardiola was adamant that it was nothing more than a joke between two friends.
Can’t even joke with a friend these days... You guys... 🤦🏻♂️— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) September 22, 2019
Now, speaking ahead of City's clash with Everton on Sunday (via Manchester Evening News), Guardiola has once again supported Silva, insisting that he knows the Portuguese midfielder well enough to know it was a joke.
He said: “Regarding Bernardo I was incredibly clear. If the people believe Bernardo is this type of person they are completely wrong. They judge one joke - I judge three years with him.
“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. It was just a joke. Benjamin is like a brother to Bernardo. It is the same the other way. It is what I see every day in training.”
When asked whether he could understand why some would be offended by the tweet, Guardiola confessed that he is aware of the potential problems of the interaction, although he insisted that people should not try to make it appear worse than it is.
“If someone is affected or feels bad about that tweet or any comments, it can happen. People judging Bernardo don’t know him. He is an exceptional person, exceptional. He likes to be involved in different situations," Guardiola added.
“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 people think it’s the opposite then Bernardo and City are open.
“Skin color, where you were born, you feel better than the other, is ridiculous. I was born in Catalonia because my mom and dad were there.
“I speak for myself. I don’t think I’m something special because of my color of my position. I’ve understood that for a long time. Bernardo too, I spoke many times with him over three years. Put the focus on other things, not Bernardo.
“If someone is offended I can understand it. Bernardo is maybe going to take a lesson and it won’t happen again.”