Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reacted to Bernardo Silva's racially insensitive tweet to fellow club teammate Benjamin Mendy.
The English FA is keen on punishing Silva for a six-match ban after a racial tweet was aimed at French defender Mendy and Guardiola has moved in to play down the seriousness of the tweet, he insisted that what was shared was a joke between the two teammates.
However, Silva wrote to the FA to express regret over the Mendy tweet, while Mendy also wrote to the governing body to say that no personal offence had been caused by his teammate.
'I don't think Bernardo has to learn', the Spaniard said. 'It was a joke but if someone is offended he has apologised.
'It is tough because the people and media are saying he is racist. I wouldn't like to be accused of that because it's not true. Mendy is like a brother to him, a real friend.'
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Guardiola went on to speak of the character of the 25-year-old, stressing his value as a member of his star-studded squad
'He's an exceptional person, exceptional. It's not easy to live in that position where people can think he's not. So we have to fight every single day, about discrimination, racism, sexual abuse and all bad things.
'Every single day in our society we have to fight for that but we have to be careful because we are accusing an exceptional person of being something he's not. He has a family and that's why it is really unfair. I am so disappointed with how he has been treated.'
Sterling, who has used his fame to become a public voice against racism, added: 'I thought the situation was between two friends. I can see the point where some people will feel touchy about it but in that situation, Bernardo made a joke to a friend.
'He's not referred to his skin colour, he's not referred to his lips. In the pictures, they've both got small heads. The most important thing to me is that he didn't refer to a colour. We all know and everyone can see Mendy is a black lad. You've got to be proud to be black too.
'If someone refers to our skin colour with an image you've got to take that as a joke. It is sad to see someone like Bernardo the whole week be down about it because he's not that way inclined and they're two really good friends. There is no intentional racism. It's not because they are my team-mates and I don't feel there is any racism in it.'