John Barnes has defended Bernardo Silva following accusations of racism against the Manchester City midfielder.
Portugal international Silva posted a message on Twitter on Sunday directed at team-mate Benjamin Mendy, showing a picture of a young Mendy alongside a separate image of the mascot of a Spanish confectionery brand.
Kick It Out has claimed the tweet was discriminatory and the Football Association have asked City for their observations.
Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You guys… 🤦🏻♂️
— Bernardo Silva (@BernardoCSilva) September 22, 2019
But Barnes said the accusations are “ridiculous” and that Silva’s tweet had nothing to do with racism.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it,” former Liverpool winger Barnes told Sky Sports News.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s a cartoon, and in many respects I’ve seen it, and I think he looks like a young Mendy. I don’t see what the issue is.
“This has got nothing to do with racism. They are friends. Regardless of whether it looks like Mendy or not, why is that offensive?
“Are Kick It Out and the FA wrong? Yes.”
Mendy and Silva were team-mates at Monaco before they both signed for Manchester City in 2017.
Kick It Out issued a statement on Monday morning saying they were “extremely disappointed” by Silva’s tweet.
“The FA have been notified and we believe that retrospective action should be taken, including mandatory education – which is vital to challenge offensive behaviour such as this,” Kick It Out said.
“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’.”
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) September 23, 2019
But Barnes said: “Showing a caricature of a little black boy, and a real black boy, how is that racial stereotyping?”
The former England star added: “If they say why they think it is discriminatory, then maybe I will have a different opinion, but it cannot be discriminatory by just looking at those two pictures and saying it’s racist.”