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01st Dec 2020

Argentina strip Pablo Matera of captaincy after emergence of racist tweets

Wayne Farry

The tweets date back to 2011 and 2012

Pablo Matera, the captain of the Argentina international rugby team, has been sacked from his country’s set up after the emergence of a number of racist tweets from his Twitter account.

On Tuesday the Argentina Rugby Union released a statement saying that Matera had been sacked as captain and suspended for his country’s upcoming fixture against Australia for a series of ‘discriminatory and xenophobic’ tweets, alongside teammates Guido Petti and Santiago Socino.

One of the tweets, when translated, reads: “SOUTH AFRICA baby! I’m finally leaving this country full of blacks.”

Another reads: “Today is a good day to get in the car and drive over blacks.”

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social media and meeting as an emergency, the board of directors resolves to, in the first place, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and request the staff to propose a new captain to the board of directors,” read the statement.

“Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.”

“Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the integrity as people that the three showed during this time in Los Pumas, from the Argentine Rugby Union we condemn any expression of hatred and consider it unacceptable.”

Matera, who just weeks ago captained the Pumas to their first ever win over the All Blacks, has  nowclosed his Twitter account and made his Instagram account private.

“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” Matera posted on Instagram before making it private.

“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said nine years ago. I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, members of the Pumas set up believe that the emergence of the tweets relate to what was perceived as a lack of respect from the team over the death of Diego Maradona.

Maradona, the footballing legend who died last week at the age of 60, was commemorated with black armbands by the Argentine rugby team prior to their second test against New Zealand at the weekend.

However, their tribute caused controversy back in Argentina, with many accusing the team of a lack of respect compared to the All Blacks, who laid a jersey adorned with the number 10 before performing their traditional Haka.