Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva must serve a one-match ban over a tweet he sent about team-mate Benjamin Mendy.
The Portuguese posted pictures of Mendy as a child alongside the mascot for Spanish confectionery firm Conguitos on September 22.
He immediately deleted it but was charged by the Football Association, which has now imposed a suspension, a £50,000 fine and ordered him to complete face-to-face education.
A statement from the FA on Wednesday afternoon read: “Bernardo Silva has been suspended for one first-team competitive fixture, fined £50,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting a breach of FA Rule E3.
“The Manchester City midfielder’s social media activity on September 22, 2019 breached FA Rule E3(1), as it was insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute, and constituted an ‘aggravated breach’, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included reference, whether expressed or implied, to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin.”
On the same day as the tweet in question, Silva posted: “Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You guys…”
It is understood 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.
City manager Pep Guardiola also leapt to the defence of his player.
“Bernardo is one of the most lovely people I have ever met in my life,” Guardiola said on September 25.
“He speaks four or five languages – that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is – and one of his best friends is Mendy. He is like a brother for him. The image for the two is not about the colour of the skin.”
Silva is now set to miss the Premier League match against Chelsea on November 23.
In the written reasons published alongside the sanction for Silva, it was acknowledged that he “had no previous knowledge of the adverse connotations linked by some to the brand”, with some critics describing the tweet as racist.
The regulatory commission added: “Moreover, the player had himself grown up in a country where both the brand and the character were familiar and considered inoffensive.”
The FA argued that Silva, at 25 years of age, “ought to have had a greater awareness regarding the implications of posting such an image on social media” and that “he ought properly to have been aware that such stereotyping as is contained in the image as insulting or improper by reference to race, colour and/or ethnic origin”.
The mandatory education programme for Silva must be completed within four months of the written reasons being published.
As well as the lack of knowledge of the connotations of the Conguitos character and the lack of intent to offend, the commission stated there were a number of other factors which mitigated the misconduct.
These were the prompt deletion of the tweet by Silva, the player and his club taking steps to ensure the player has a greater understanding of his responsibilities regarding social media, an early admission of wrongdoing and his previous exemplary character and disciplinary record.