It would be a “mistake” to punish Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva for a tweet about team-mate Benjamin Mendy, says boss Pep Guardiola.
The Football Association wrote to City after Mendy was compared to a character on a packet of Conguitos – a sweet brand available in Spain and Portugal.
“There are many situations with white people where a cartoon will look similar,” Guardiola said. “The response from Mendy was clear. They are joking all the time.”
The post was published at 12:44 BST on Sunday but was deleted at 13:30, although Portugal international Bernardo later tweeted: “Can’t even joke with a friend these days.”
Silva, 25, played the full 90 minutes of City’s 3-0 win at Preston in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday.
Guardiola said: “Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I’ve met in my life. He speaks four or five languages – that’s the best way to understand how open-minded he is.
“One of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and related it with this cartoon, quite similar for the image.”
“If they (the FA) want to do that (talk to Silva), Bernardo will be open to talk. But first you have to know which person you are talking about.
“If something happens it will be a mistake because Bernardo is an exceptional person. It’s nothing to do with colour of skin or nationality.”
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has called on the FA to act after the governing body said it was investigating.