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Argentina rugby skipper punished for racist post

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Sydney, Australia (AFP) – Argentina rugby skipper Pablo Matera said he was “deeply ashamed” Tuesday as he was stripped of the captaincy and suspended along with two other players over racist tweets.

Just weeks after leading the Pumas to their first win over the mighty All Blacks, the Argentina Rugby Union “revoked” Matera’s captaincy and suspended him, along with second row Guido Petti and replacement hooker 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 post dating from 2011-2013 came to light.

In the tweets, since deleted, Matera spoke of “running over blacks” with his car and disparaged Bolivian and Paraguayan domestic workers with racial stereotypes.

Petti referred to his domestic worker as a “primate” and spoke of “blacks” stealing mobile phones and wallets.

Argentina have endured a turbulent year including lockdowns and a coronavirus-hit build-up to the Tri Nations, where they stunned New Zealand and drew with Australia before going down 38-0 to the All Blacks on Saturday.

The rugby union said that although the posts were several years 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.

Matera, who captained Argentina at last year’s World Cup and plays club rugby for top Paris side Stade Francais, apologised for his “barbarisms”.

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