It started with a laugh, banter between two friends, ended up with a tweet and then finished up with Kick it Out getting involved and reporting Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva for a racist tweet.
A few days ago Silva tweeted a photo of team mate Mendy as a baby next to a Spanish chocolate logo of what looks like a black child, and made a comparison joke about it. Uproar soon followed and the FA got on the case and now inevitably Kick it Out are asking the FA to punish Silva.
Let’s first study the facts; Silva and Mendy are very close friends off the field and get on very well. Mendy responded to Silva’s tweet with laughter, so certainly Mendy isn’t taking it seriously and can see the joke. The problem is that what you do on the internet is always seen differently, out of context if you like, and it does look like on first impact that Silva’s tweet makes him out to be a racist. Once we understand a friendly personal relationship that in fairness we know nothing about since it’s private then we would understand more about Silva and Mendy’s friendship and how they work off of one another.
At the same time Silva brutally opened those doors to a public, and really he should have known better, and should have thought about it sharing something that is obviously very sensitive to an unsuspecting eye, not involved in any way shape or form in that friendship, and will never be.
The problem for Silva is that he has allegedly done this before, and to the same player. When Mendy was wearing a black t shirt he said why did you turn up naked? It’s very possible that again the two of them laughed it off, but guess what, the joke was very much on Mendy. Does Mendy give it back? At this point in time we have no idea.
Silva could be facing up to a 6 game ban which would make his manager Pep Guardiola absolutely livid, if nothing else and even if Silva is not a racist, why not share what could be very sensitive in a personal email or message to Mendy rather than to his 603,000 followers?
There is no historical evidence that Silva is a racist, and he seems very much like a good person within football. However that doesn’t dispel what he did and what he did was an act of ignorance which could be deemed racist. It is important to note that one can say or do a racist thing without having hate towards a certain race and it does seem this is what Silva has done, it certainly wasn’t correct to compare a logo to a black player, even if the two of them found it funny.
Bans or fines make no sense and whilst Kick it Out needs to bring Silva’s actions to attentions their suggestions seem draconian and fruitless. Rather spending some time with minorities a few educational classes would be the better way to go here, and again no one is suggesting Silva is a racist, but it was a joke in poor taste.
Kick it Out and the FA were absolutely right to not let this just lie and forget about it. The Italian FA and UEFA do a good enough job of that, and look at what has happened there. Racism in any walks of life needs to be attached with a zero tolerance attitude even in Silva’s case when it clearly was edgy banter between two good friends.
Once these tweets are left to slip, others are too and that disease called racism will then grow and grow as our tolerance becomes more accepted to the fact. Give Silva some educational tips but don’t condemn him to the sidelines or empty his bank account just yet.