'I don't feel there's any racism in it': Football ace Raheem Sterling defends teammate Bernardo Silva's controversial tweet
Silva posted an image to social media featuring a picture of Mendy as a child, along with the image of a dark-skinned character featured on the packaging of the Conguitos brand of chocolate. The tweet drew criticism from anti-racism watchdog 'Kick It Out', who deemed the comparison racially insensitive.
However, Raheem Sterling, who has been vocal in his opposition to racist chanting in football grounds across the world, has said that Silva's tweet was a misunderstanding and had no racial overtones whatsoever.Also on rt.com 'Not good enough': Raheem Sterling hits out at football chiefs for failing to combat racism
"I don't feel there's any racism in it," said Sterling after Manchester City's 3-1 win against Everton.
"It's a situation between two friends, Bernardo and Mendy, as everyone knows. I can see exactly the point where some people can get touchy-feely on it but I feel in that situation Bernardo made a joke to his friend.
"He's not referred to his skin colour, he's not referred to his lips. In both the pictures they've both got small heads, you know. The most important thing for me is he didn't refer to a colour."
The English Football Association has contacted Manchester City to request their opinion on the matter, while Silva has contacted the FA to state that he regrets any misunderstanding which may have come from his tweet. Mendy has also stated that he did not take any offence.
I’m disappointed in you, Raheem. Fair enough defend you team-mate, who we all believe is not racist and meant no ill will, but admit he made a mistake or an error in judgement at the very least. Sad to see him towing the Pep Guardiola line. https://t.co/lsJiN1MIUY— Chisanga Malata (@Chisanga_Malata) September 28, 2019
Here’s ‘Conguitos’. To some it’s a cute image, a joke, designed to show to the world how it resembles your black friend as a child. To others, its a ubiquitous racist image found in the US, UK, Spain, Netherlands, that caricatures blackness for white entertainment & consumption. pic.twitter.com/54qq3sGp36— Blues and Abstract Truth (@barnor_hesse) September 26, 2019
Furthermore, Sterling detailed how Silva had been affected by the publicity surrounding the social media message and that he thoroughly regretted the reaction to what he intended to be a light-hearted joke.
"I feel it's really sad to see someone like Bernardo, the whole week, be kind of down about it because he's not that way inclined. I keep going on about it, they're really good friends, it's really sad to see.
"He's not in the wrong for me but at the same time I can see where people think it's wrong and we just need to be smarter on social media. We understand in this day and age anything you say and anything you do can quickly be judged and it's really just a sad situation in this moment in time.
"There's not one moment he uses a negative term to speak about his skin colour so that's the most important thing. He tried to make a joke and that joke wasn't the best, but we've got to move on and understand it was not intentional."Also on rt.com 'Silence the haters (I mean racists)': Sterling calls for sanctions as Montenegro charged with abuse
Silva came in for further criticism after news of the tweet had broken when a video emerged of him asking Mendy why he was 'naked' despite wearing all-black clothes.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola outlined his support for Silva earlier in the week, saying: "People judging Bernardo don't know him," said Guardiola.
"He is an exceptional person. Exceptional."