Manchester City have dismissed “ill-judged criticism” from Porto after the Portuguese club took aim at Fernandinho, Pep Guardiola and Bernardo Silva, who was incorrectly described as having been “convicted of racism”.
Porto’s move came after City drew 0-0 at the Estádio do Dragão in the Champions League on Tuesday and is the latest flare-up involving the clubs. In an official newsletter Porto referred to Silva, a Portugal international, as “an opponent of ours who is known internationally for having been convicted of racism”.
Silva was banned last year for one match after tweeting an image of his City teammate Benjamin Mendy next to the controversial logo of the Spanish confectionery brand Conguitos, but the Football Association independent commission wrote: “His tweet was not intended by him to be either racist or offensive in any way.”
After the reverse fixture in October, which City won, Porto’s coach Sergio Conceição accused Guardiola and his staff of haranguing the match officials, which Guardiola rejected. Before the match on Tuesday Conceição described Silva as “childish” for a tweet that followed City’s victory in which the midfielder wrote: “This one felt so good!”
Porto’s newsletter claimed Guardiola had a “bad disposition after the meeting” on Tuesday and quoted Conceição as saying: “I would also be upset if I couldn’t win with the team he has and the budget he has.”
Regarding Fernandinho, the letter said: “Despite being 35 [he] is a clear example that football money counts a lot, but it doesn’t buy class or notion.” In response a City spokesperson said: “This is not the first time Porto have reacted badly in circumstances like this. On this occasion it is the ill-judged and targeted criticism of some of our players and indeed our manager, which we wholly reject.
“In 2012, the last season we encountered them, it was the denial by the club of the clear racist behaviour of their fans for which they were investigated and fined. In this context the latest outburst is almost as surprising as it is disappointing.”
The incident referred to came at the Dragão in February 2012, when the City forward Mario Balotelli was found by Uefa to have been racially abused by Porto supporters.
Joleon Lescott, who was in City’s XI then and was a BT pundit for the game on Tuesday, tweeted: “Strange reading the statement from Porto the game looked comfortable to me. Annoying part is the racism claim. No racism should be ignored and trying to deflect isn’t going to work. Clearly selective memory, I’m sure them receiving a fine for targeting Mario in 2012 just a memory.”