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Guardiola leaps to defence of Bernardo against accusations of racism over tweet

Pep Guardiola has defended Bernardo Silva against accusations of racism over a tweet to Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy.

The Football Association has written to the Premier League champions requesting their observations after Silva posted pictures on social media on Sunday comparing Mendy to the character on a packet of Conguitos chocolates.

Anti-racism organisation Kick It Out has called on the governing body to take action.

Manchester City v Watford – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Bernardo Silva has been defended by his manager Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)

City did not comment immediately but manager Guardiola was asked for his thoughts after his side’s Carabao Cup win at Championship side Preston on Tuesday.

Guardiola said: “Honestly, I don’t know what is going to happen but they should put the focus on other issues.

“They don’t know which guy you are talking about – Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I have ever met in my life.

“He speaks four or five languages – that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is – and one of his best friends is Mendy. He is like a brother for him. The image for the two 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 – quite similar, for the image.

“If they want to do that, to ask Bernardo, we’d be open to talk, but first to do that you want to know exactly which person are you talking about.

“There are many situations when white people, the colour, and you look at cartoons and it is quite similar as your face and you put it in there. It is not about that.

Arsenal v Manchester City – Premier League – Emirates Stadium

Bernardo Silva (left) and Benjamin Mendy are close friends (Nick Potts/PA)

“I think the response from Mendy was clear after that. It was a joke all the time. Maybe, what I’ve said many times, my advice is do not use too much social media. That is what happens.

“If something happens it would be a mistake because Bernardo is an exceptional person.”

With Silva starting and Mendy appearing as a second-half substitute, City eased to a 3-0 victory in the third-round tie at Deepdale.

All their goals came in the first half with Raheem Sterling netting a fine individual effort, Gabriel Jesus doubling the lead and Ryan Ledson turning into his own net.

Guardiola, who fielded teenagers Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in his back four, said: “I’m very pleased because they are third in the Championship and I know how tough the Championship is.

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“We took it seriously. You cannot do what we’ve done in previous seasons if you don’t take every single game seriously and try to win.”

Preston boss Alex Neil felt the hosts acquitted themselves well.

Neil said: “I thought we did well. I don’t think we disappointed.

Preston North End v Southampton – Pre-Season Friendly – Deepdale

Alex Neil was not too disappointed with his side’s performance (Dave Howarth/PA)

“The problem we have got is, when you play against that quality of player, talking about stopping it is one thing but it is another to do it in live play.

“I don’t think we can get too down on ourselves. All in all I was happy.

“Man City were the better team but our lads didn’t let us down. They gave everything they’ve got.”

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