Matera loses captaincy, among 3 players suspended by Pumas

Pablo Matera has been stripped of the captaincy of the Argentina national rugby team and suspended along with two teammates over historic social media posts which have been deemed “racist and xenophobic.”

SYDNEY — Pablo Matera has been stripped of the captaincy of the Argentina national rugby team and suspended along with two teammates over historic social media posts which have been deemed “discriminatory and xenophobic.”

The suspensions were announced Tuesday after an emergency meeting of the Argentina Rugby Union, and further disciplinary action may be coming.

The board of the Argentina union issued a statement saying it “repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social networks.”

It said the board resolved to “first, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and asked (the national team) staff to propose a new captain to the board.

“Second, order the suspension Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until resolving disciplinary actions.

“Third, open a disciplinary case to the three players mentioned, which will be handled by the disciplinary commission of the Argentine Rugby Union.”

The statement said social media posts were sent between 2011 and 2013 and “don’t represent the integrity as personas all three have shown through out this time with Los Pumas.”

But it said “the Argentine Rugby Union condemns all kinds of hate speech and consider unacceptable that those who conveyed them represent our country.”

The posts, mostly tweets, reportedly were aimed at Black people and Bolivian and Paraguayan domestic workers.

The 27-year-old Matera, who played his first international match in 2013, has closed his Twitter account and expressed regret over the messages on Instagram.

“Today I have to take (responsibility) for what I said nine years ago,” Matera said. “I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote. At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become.

“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through … and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”

Socino added in a statement: “I want to apologize to those who I may have offended with what I said at the time, and what I absolutely repudiate. I never realized what it could cause, and I do not seek to justify it with the immaturity with which I handled myself”.

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