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Benfica have released a statement backing former player Bernardo Silva after he was hit by a charge by the FA.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the FA allege that Silva's social media post, which compared a picture of a young Benjamin Mendy to a cartoon character from Spanish chocolate peanut brand Conguitos, "was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute".
The Portugal international has until 9 October to respond to the charge and could be facing a ban for his social media activity.
But Benfica, the club who Bernardo played for in his youth before moving to AS Monaco in 2015, have defended the Manchester City midfielder.
"Bernardo Silva is a young man who always been distinguished for his simplicity, his character and his good upbringing," a statement from the Portuguese club read, as per the Manchester Evening news.
"Wherever he goes, he is always missed and always ensures that the managers and team-mates who deal with him are unanimous in complimenting his happy and spontaneous nature. In Benfica, we are enormously proud of you, Bernardo!
"Turning a simple joke between two team-mates and friends into a tweet with racist intent and opening a misconduct charge demonstrates and signals a disease of our times."
Silva posted the side-by-side picture on his Twitter on 22 September, a day after scoring his first ever career hat-trick in City's 8-0 thrashing of Watford.
He then elected to delete the tweet after receiving backlash for what people perceived to be 'offensive' and 'racist', posting a second tweet saying, "Can't even joke with a friend these days... You guys..." accompanied with a face-palm emoji.
Mendy, who Bernardo played with at Monaco before the pair moved to Manchester in the same summer, did not take offence and wrote to the FA to defend his colleague.
City boss Pep Guardiola has publicly backed his player in various press conferences and post-match interviews.
"I don't think Bernardo has to learn' Guardiola stated after the win over Everton on Saturday, as per the Daily Mail.
"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.
"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."
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