Forward stripped of Argentina captaincy over racist remarks

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, forward Pablo Matera has been stripped of the captaincy of Argentina.
Pablo Matera has been stood down as captain of Argentina's rugby team. Pic: Getty

Argentine rugby has become embroiled in controversy, with Los Pumas stripping Pablo Matera of his captaincy in the wake of xenophobic comments he made several years ago.

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

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

The Argentina Rugby Union issued at statement on Tuesday condemning the comments and announcing Matera's sacking before the clash with the Wallabies.

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social networks and meeting urgently, the Board of Directors resolves: In the first place, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and request the staff to propose a new captain to the Board of Directors," a statement read.

The country's rugby board has also suspended Guido Petti and Santiago Socino for similarly offensive comments, with further disciplinary action expected after a full investigation.

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

“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.

Pablo Matera is seen here in action for Argentina against the All Blacks
Matera led Los Pumas in a historic victory against the All Blacks in November. Pic: Getty

Los Pumas criticised over Maradona

The controversy surrounding Matera and his teammates comes after the Argentinian team were criticised for failing to pay their respects to Diego Maradona.

The All Blacks earned worldwide praise for a beautiful gesture for the Argentina legend before last weekend's match against Los Pumas.

Matera was also forced to defend his own team's apparent lack of response to Maradona's death, in the wake of criticism.

"Internally this group paid a very great tribute to Diego, we lived it very intensely," said Matera in the apology along with the rest of the national team, and asserted that Maradona "marked" Los Pumas for attitudes like that, despite "all the adversities that were presented to him, he never lowered his arms. "

He also recalled that they had "incredible moments" with Maradona at the 2015 World Cup, even "inside the dressing room", and stressed that he was "the only person who really managed to unite a people."

with agencies

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