Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola had strongly defended Benjamin Mendy despite the full-back breaking coronavirus restrictions to host a party on New Year's Eve.
An official City statement stated the club’s "disappointment" at the French left-back’s behaviour with an internal investigation underway after Mendy invited a chef and two friends of his partner to attend his Cheshire home, even though regulations prevent people from different households from mixing indoors.
Mendy did not start for City in their 3-1 win at Chelsea, but was on the substitutes bench, with Pep Guardiola defending both the decision to include the player in his squad and his judgement to host a party.
Guardiola said: "No, he's part of the group, he's one of the good guys. It must be love in our group. He's a special guy for all of us, he has an incredible heart.
"I would like to see how many people judge him if they have the good intentions he has.
"It would be better if, before we judge others, we judge ourselves.
"I'm not justifying that, he broke the rules. But don't give too many lessons to others.
"Of course it was not correct what he has done, but don't judge him too much. Maybe many people have done the same. It's easy to judge others.
"If everyone put those intentions aside, maybe it would be better."
Guardiola believes society is too quick to judge footballers and wants an end to the Mendy matter.
Asked if footballers must be held to higher standards as role models, he said: "I would not agree with this. The only exception is we do our job. We appear more in social media and interviews, but that's it.
"I don't think footballers are more important than doctors, architect or teachers for my kids.
"So they only have the same responsibility as everyone else in the world. Mendy knows he made a big mistake, but it finishes here."
A City spokesman said: "The club is aware of a New Year's Eve Covid-19 breach involving Benjamin Mendy and the subsequent media reporting of it.
"While it is understood that elements of this incident have been misinterpreted in the reports, and that the player has publicly apologised for his error, the club is disappointed to learn of the transgression and will be conducting an internal investigation."
A spokesperson for Mendy did not deny the claims in a statement given to The Sun.
"Benjamin and his partner allowed a chef and two friends of his partner to attend his property for a dinner party on New Year's Eve," a statement said.
"Ben accepts that this is a breach of Covid-19 protocols and is sorry for his actions in this matter. Ben has had a Covid test and is liaising with Manchester City about this."
City were without several players, including goalkeeper Ederson, at Stamford Bridge after suffering an outbreak of the virus in recent days.
Their match away to Everton on December 28 was postponed at late notice after the number of players affected reached five, and before Sunday's match it was announced that defender Eric Garcia and a member of staff had also now tested positive.
"Both personnel will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine," a statement said.
"Everyone at the club wishes our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition."
On Saturday, pictures emerged of Tottenham trio Erik Lamela, Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso attending a large house party in London over the Christmas period in clear breach of the regulations.
A statement from Spurs said the club "strongly condemn" the actions of the players, who could now face internal disciplinary action.
West Ham's Manuel Lanzini was also in attendance at the same party. The player issued an apology on social media for his "bad mistake" while the club said the matter had been dealt with internally.
Meanwhile Fulham, whose match at Burnley on Sunday was postponed due to positive cases at the club, are investigating pictures that emerged on social media on Friday showing Aleksandar Mitrovic and his fellow Serb Luka Milivojevic of Crystal Palace, along with their two families on December 31.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies