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 “discriminatory and xenophobic.”

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

Matera became a national hero when he led the Argentina team to its first-ever win over the New Zealand All Blacks during the Tri-Nations series in Australia three weeks ago. Now he, veteran lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino will miss Los Pumas’ final Tri-Nations match against Australia in Sydney on Saturday as their suspensions begin.

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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.

Matera 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.”