Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has offered his support to teammate Bernardo Silva after the Portugal international was criticised for a controversial tweet sent to Benjamin Mendy.
Silva is currently under investigation from the FA after comparing Mendy to the mascot of Spanish chocolate brand Conguitos, and faces a potential ban of at least six games if he is found guilty of racism.
He said: "I thought the situation was between two friends. I can see the point where some people will feel touchy about it but in that situation, Bernardo made a joke to a friend.
"He’s not referred to his skin colour, he’s not referred to his lips. In the pictures they’ve both got small heads. The most important thing to me is that he didn’t refer to a colour. We all know and everyone can see Mendy is a black lad. You’ve got to be proud to be black too.
Can’t even joke with a friend these days... You guys... 🤦🏻♂️— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) September 22, 2019
"If someone refers to our skin colour with an image you’ve got to take that as a joke. It is sad to see someone like Bernardo the whole week be down about it because he’s not that way inclined and they’re two really good friends.
"There is no intentional racism. It's not because they are my teammates and I don't feel there is any racism in it."
However, whilst Sterling was adamant that the incident has been taken the wrong way - just as manager Pep Guardiola was - he did confess that it is easy to understand why people would get offended by Silva's comments.
"I can understand why the criticism has come. I can see where people are coming from. Bernardo doesn’t need to be sorry about it, he’s not in the wrong for me but I can see where people think it is," Sterling added.
"We just have to be smart on social media because we understand that in this day and age anything you say or do can quickly be judged and it’s a really sad situation."