Pep Guardiola has reluctantly accepted Bernardo Silva’s one-match ban for a tweet comparing teammate Benjamin Mendy to a black cartoon character but the Manchester City manager again insisted that his player was not racist.
The Portuguese will miss the match at home to Chelsea on Saturday after the FA found Silva guilty of an aggravated breach of rules because his tweet included a reference “whether expressed or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin”.
Silva tweeted an image of a young Mendy alongside an image of the character representing the Spanish chocolate peanut brand Conguitos in September, deleting it shortly afterwards.
The player said that it was meant as a joke between friends, but he has still been banned, fined £50,000 (S$80,000) and must complete face-to-face education as part of his punishment.
However, Guardiola, who has stood by the 25-year-old, believes the FA are trying to make an example of Silva.
“In this situation, the less important thing is the fact that we are going to miss him. He has been accused of something he’s not,” said the City boss.
“If they want to pick on someone to show something, it was the right person. He will be careful with social media from now on, but if this can help make a better society, I’m pretty sure Bernardo will accept this punishment.
“But he is not what he is accused of being.”
City take on Chelsea at the Etihad, with the London club one point and one place above them in the Premier League table after City’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
The defending champions are now in fourth place, nine points off the pace set by Jurgen Klopp’s team, while Lampard’s Chelsea have overtaken them following six successive wins.
The former England midfielder has hit the ground running at Chelsea and Guardiola believes the low expectations because of Lampard’s inexperience as a manager allied to a transfer ban has allowed them to flourish.
And it has echoes of when Guardiola took charge at Barcelona in 2008, after just one season in charge of the club’s B team.
“Frank knows Chelsea perfectly and how the club works behind the scenes, the relations with the fans, the media, the players,” he said.
“When I arrived at Barcelona, not many people trusted me, the president and sporting director, but not many.”
Guardiola said perhaps Lampard, widely regarded as one of Chelsea’s greatest players, faced a similar situation.
“When you start with nobody trusting you, it’s perfect,” he said.
“You win games and more people trust you.
“When you have won titles, you always have to defend what you’ve won in your career and it’s never enough.”
One piece of good news for Guardiola is that after missing the defeat at Liverpool, goalkeeper Ederson will be back, from the muscle injury he picked up in the 1-1 draw at Atalanta in the Champions League earlier this month.
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