Pep Guardiola defended Bernardo Silva after a tweet about Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy included what was described as a "racist stereotype" by Kick It Out.
The organisation criticised Silva after he posted a photo of Mendy as a child alongside a dated image from Spanish confectionary 'Conguitos' that has been criticised for its racist connotations, with the caption: "Guess who?".
France international Mendy appeared to take the post in good humour, replying with laughing emojis and a message saying: "1-0 for you will see".
Pep Guardiola has defended Bernardo Silva after allegations of racism were made following a Twitter post featuring Benjamin Mendy. pic.twitter.com/llTnV5wdaJ— SPORTbible (@sportbible) September 25, 2019
Silva, who had scored a hat-trick in an 8-0 Premier League defeat of Watford last week, deleted the message then posted: "Can't even joke with a friend these days…You guys…".
However, social media users noted the racist implications of the image and the Football Association (FA) has contacted City to ask the club for their observations over the tweet.
Guardiola feels there was no malice intended from Silva, noting the Portugal international's close relationship with left-back Mendy.
"Honestly, I don't know what will happen," Guardiola told reporters after Tuesday's 3-0 EFL Cup win at Preston North End. "They [the FA] should put their focus on another issue because they don't know which guy you are talking about.
"Bernardo is one of most lovely people I ever met in my life. He speaks four or five languages and that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is and one of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother for him.
"The image 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, which was quite similar for the image.
"If they want to do that [investigate] and ask for Bernardo, I think he will be open to talk. But first you have to know exactly which person you are talking about.
"There are many situations with people, with white people, and you look at a cartoon and the face is quite similar as your face and you put it in there, it is quite similar.
"I think the response from Mendy was clear after that. They are joking all the time. Maybe what I say as advice is to hide social media… if something happened it would be a mistake.
"Bernardo is an exceptional person. A guy who can speak five languages, it's because he's open-minded – nothing about the colour of the skin, nationalities or whatever."