Thursday, 3 October 2019

Time for Bernardo Silva, Guardiola and Man City to learn from the Conguitos case

Benjamin Mendy was the target of some ill-advised banter on Twitter by his team-mate Bernardo Silva, who now faces an FA charge

With hindsight, Bernardo Silva would have been well advised to refrain from posting in public an image which compared his friend and team-mate Benjamin Mendy to a character called a “Conguito”, which we all know by now features in advertisements and on wrappers of a Spanish chocolate treat.

Whether Mendy found the image offensive or not – and for the record he didn’t – is irrelevant.

Had someone who knew Mendy less well, or even thought badly of him, posted that image on Twitter then it would have quite rightly been condemned as racist.

Just because Bernardo and Mendy know and like each other doesn’t alter the offence of the image. Whatever is shared in private is nobody else’s business but once it goes public that’s a different story.

And in a sense Bernardo has opened a Pandora’s Box with his tweet. How long will it be until the troll accounts are using the Conguito alongside other black athletes? He could well have inadvertently emboldened others to co-opt the image; he has emboldened its usage.

Matters were not helped initially by Bernardo’s “joke between friends” defence. They were made altogether worse by Pep Guardiola.

In two separate press conferences he not only defended Bernardo’s right to compare Mendy and the Conguito character but even went so far as to say the depictions were similar.

That, no matter what way you slice it, is utter bone-headedness. Here was an opportunity for Guardiola to say that yes, Bernardo and Mendy were friends but no, he should not have put that image forward for public consumption.

Instead he allowed the affair to fester and grow worse.


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