Shocking Diego Maradona twist in Argentina rugby scandal

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Seen here, Pablo Matera in action for Argentina and tributes to Maradona in his homeland.
Pablo Matera looks to have paid the price for his side's controversial Maradona tribute. Pic: Getty

Pablo Matera's sacking as Argentina rugby captain was instigated by the team's failure to properly honour legendary footballer Diego Maradona, according to reports.

The Argentina Rugby Union issued at statement on Tuesday confirming their captain had been stripped of his role over xenophobic comments he made several years ago.

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Matera was forced to apologise after the historical comments he made about Bolivian and black people resurfaced on social media.

The Argentina forward is accused of making several racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, classist and discriminatory comments between 2011 and 2013.

Argentina's rugby board condemned the comments and said Matera had been stood down as captain before the clash with the Wallabies.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Argentina's rugby bosses believe Matera's old comments resurfaced as a form of revenge from those in his homeland, angry with the side's underwhelming tribute to Maradona in last weekend's clash with the All Blacks.

The New Zealand side was widely praised after presenting a special All Blacks jersey with Maradona's name and number on the back, before performing their haka.

All Blacks skipper Sam Cane is seen here paying tribute to Diego Maradona.
The All Blacks were praised for their lovely gesture after Maradona's death. Pic: Getty

Outrage over Los Pumas’ Maradona tribute

However, the Argentina side simply wore black armbands to commemorate Maradona's death, sparking outrage back home.

The team even released a video on Monday to apologise for the anger they'd caused over their Maradona tribute.

“We know that the tribute we did for Diego caused disappointment, but we wanted to tell you that it was by no means our intention,” the Pumas wrote in the post accompanying the video.

“We did not want to stop apologising to them, we wanted to tell them that Diego is always present and is an important person for this team.”

On Tuesday, the rugby board and Matera were forced to apologise again after the forward's shocking historical tweets resurfaced on social media.

Matera deletes shocking tweets

In a series of tweets that have since been deleted from his account, Matera wrote about “running over blacks” with his car and disparaged Bolivians and Paraguayans.

One tweet translates as: “SOUTH AFRICA baby! I’m finally leaving this country full of blacks.. OUCH!!”

Another reads: “Nice morning to go in the car to step on blacks.”

Matera issued an apology on Instagram, insisting he was a changed man from the one who made the initial comments several years ago.

Pictured here, Pablo Matera has lost his role as Argentina's rugby captain.
Pablo Matera has been stood down as captain of Argentina's rugby team. Pic: Getty

“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” Matera wrote.

“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 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.”

The 27-year-old flanker led the Pumas to an historic 25-15 victory over the All Blacks in Sydney last month, before the Kiwis exacted their revenge with a 38-0 win in Newcastle.

Argentina Rugby Union has also suspended Guido Petti and Santiago Socino for similarly offensive comments, with further disciplinary action expected after a full investigation.

with AAP

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