Argentina have stripped Pablo Matera of the captaincy and stood him down from Saturday’s final Tri Nations clash with the Wallabies as they investigate allegedly “discriminatory and xenophobic” social media posts.
Just weeks after becoming a national hero as he inspired the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, Matera is under fire for tweets he allegedly made between 2011 and 2013 relating to Bolivian and Paraguayan domestic staff and black people.
The Argentina Rugby Union issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the comments and announcing the sacking of Matera. It also said veteran lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino had been stood down before the weekend’s game in Sydney, but did not elaborate on why.
“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social media and meeting as an emergency, the board of directors resolves to, in the first place, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and request the staff to propose a new captain to the board of directors.
“Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.”
Matera has closed his Twitter account and made his Instagram account private but reportedly issued an apology before he did so.
“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” Matera posted on Instagram.
“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said nine 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.”
Matera delivered a huge performance at flanker in the Pumas’ historic win over New Zealand, which shocked the rugby world given their limited preparation due to Covid. They backed it up with a 15-15 draw with the Wallabies last month and face the Wallabies again on Saturday night.
Shocked Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa was told of the news at a press conference and said Matera’s absence would be a “huge loss” for Argentina. While he did not know the content of the tweets he predicted the Pumas would rally at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.