Are there lessons to be learned from the Bernardo Silva tweet controversy? The Sunday Supplement panel give their views, and say education is needed.
The Portuguese winger has faced accusations of racism after comparing a picture of Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy as a child to the cartoon logo of Spanish confectionery company Conguitos.
This was further compounded by an Instagram story posted by Silva last year, which has resurfaced, in which the midfielder says Mendy is “completely naked” – despite being fully dressed in black.
Sunday Supplement panellists Darren Lewis and Martin Samuel discussed the controversy and offered suggestions on how to handle the situation going forward.
‘A learning moment’
Daily Mirror football writer Lewis said: “This whole episode has been a learning moment for us all. I’m fascinated that it has got to where it has. We know Man City have a great communications team but it seems like Pep Guardiola has taken the issue out of their hands and he has given this far more momentum that it should have had.
“Victor Anichebe said on Sky Sports yesterday that a lot of footballers have a discourse which would be unpalatable in the public domain. If they had done it in private, crack on, but if you’ve done it in public, you cannot be surprised when the public react in the way they have reacted.
“This doesn’t just become a football issue, it becomes an issue in the office, in schools, and places where people will seize on the acceptance by this industry that it is OK and think it’s OK in their day-to-day discourse. This is bigger than the individuals involved and when this issue comes along, we as an industry are struggling to deal with it.
“I don’t know anyone that saw the image and wanted to attach a label to Silva. That’s quite key because there is a rush to say ‘Silva is this, Silva is that’. It was a misguided tweet and an image that we now know to be racist but nobody is rushing to attach labels to Silva and had they not panicked and just accepted that it was wrong, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
“If we somehow believe there is a for and against argument with this, then we’re legitimising something that affects ordinary people, who go into their normal lives and have that kind of casual racism thrown at them.
“I don’t feel that the FA have it within their remit, as they tend to, to say X or Y person is racist. What made you the supreme court of racism? We all have our own individual opinions and all we can do in the game of football is make judgements based on what people do or don’t do, but they have to leave those labels to other people.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to rush to anything and this should be a learning moment for us all.”
‘Education is required’
The Daily Mail’s chief sports writer, Samuel, added: “What has happened since [the tweet] is Pep Guardiola has looked at the relationship between the two men, he sees two friends and therefore he comes at it from a different perspective from those who look at it as a wider social issue, because in that context, it isn’t on.
“This is not a football issue, this is an absolutely classic moment in which some form of education is required and some form of explanation to Bernardo Silva about why, however harmlessly you might have meant this, it’s not acceptable and we have to move on as a society.
“I felt very sorry for Raheem Sterling last night. It’s very hard to be the spokesman on race issues as you’ve walked off the pitch, and I don’t blame the interviewer for asking, but it was very hard and I don’t see how he could have got out of it without upsetting either one side or the other.
“He’s going to upset the side that have condemned the tweet and are expecting him to take a stand as a man who has done so on race issues previously. At the same time, if he doesn’t, he’s going to upset the club. So where was the man meant to go with that?”
Speaking after ‘City haven’t done enough as a club’
Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe believes Manchester City should have dealt better with the controversy surrounding Bernardo Silva’s social media post concerning Benjamin Mendy
Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe told Sky Sports: “I don’t think he’s handled this well. You can’t just keep telling us that it’s a joke between friends.
“It shouldn’t be a joke in the first place. You’re not supposed to post this in public. Once you do that, it makes others feel they have the right to make the same jokes.
“It’s just not right what he’s saying, and I don’t feel they’ve done enough as a club to really address it.