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.
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In his tweets, since deleted, Matera spoke of “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 apologised on Instagram after the tweets surfaced, saying: “I had a tougher time. 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. 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 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.