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SPORTS | 01-12-2020 00:08

Pumas dump rugby captain Matera, two other players over xenophobic posts

Argentina rugby skipper Pablo Matera was stripped of the captaincy and suspended over "discriminatory and xenophobic" tweets on Tuesday. Two other players, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, were also punished.

Argentina rugby skipper Pablo Matera was stripped of the captaincy and suspended over "discriminatory and xenophobic" tweets on Tuesday.

Just over two weeks after the flanker led the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, the Argentina Rugby Union "revoked" his captaincy and suspended him along with fellow players Guido Petti and Santiago Socino.

"The Argentina Rugby Union forcefully rejects the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Pumas squad on social media," a statement read, after offensive tweets dating from 2011-2013 came to light.

It said it had suspended "Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined," adding that disciplinary proceedings had been opened against them.

In his tweets, since deleted, Matera spoke of "running over blacks" with his car and disparaged Bolivians and Paraguayans. In one tweet, he wrote that it was "a lovely morning to go out and run over blacks," as well as another celebrating the fact he was heading to South Africa to leave behind "this country full of blacks." 

The team said that although the posts were old and did "not represent the personal integrity that the three have shown during their current period with the Pumas," action had to be taken.

"The Argentina Rugby Union condemns any instance of hate speech and considers it unacceptable that anyone expressing those views would represent our country," the statement said.

As captain, Matera released a video on Monday surrounded by the rest of the team, in which he apologised to the country for the fact the side offered no notable tribute to late football legend Diego Armando Maradona, during the Pumas clash at the weekend against New Zealand. In contrast, the All Blacks paid tribute to Maradona before the game, including the solemn offering of a shirt to the Argentine national side in their colours carrying the late footballer's name and number. 

– AFP

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