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World Rugby 'welcomes' investigation into Matera's racist social media posts

The 27-year-old was reinstated as Pumas skipper last week after initially being stripped of the captaincy.

Matera was with the Argentina squad for Saturday's clash with Argentina.
Matera was with the Argentina squad for Saturday's clash with Argentina.
Image: Rick Rycroft

WORLD RUGBY SAYS it is “seeking a better understanding” of the investigation by the Argentinian rugby union into racist social media posts by Pumas skipper Pablo Matera and two other players.

The game’s global body “welcomes” the Unión Argentina de Rugby [UAR]‘s investigation and added that “such behaviour rightly warrants full and appropriate investigation by the union.”

Argentina captain Pablo Matera and team-mates Guido Petti and Santiago Socino were suspended last Tuesday, with Matera stripped of the captaincy, after the social media posts dating from 2011 to 2013 came to light.

Matera said he was “deeply ashamed” of his tweets, including one where he mentioned “running over blacks” with his car.

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

In suspending the players, the UAR made a statement saying it “forcefully rejects the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Pumas squad on social media.”

However, the UAR then lifted the suspensions of skipper Matera and the two other players just two days later in a shock u-turn.

While the players did not feature in last weekend’s game against Australia, Argentina boss Mario Ledesma confirmed that “they reached an agreement with the union about not playing this game but what I can say is they are three fine players and great men, they are great human beings. Pablo won’t be playing this game but he is still the captain.”

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This u-turn by the UAR was followed by reports that Argentina’s players had threatened to strike over the suspensions of Matera, Petti, and Socino.

The UAR’s actions have drawn widespread criticism in recent days, with former England and Lions wing Ugo Monye asking, “Where is World Rugby in all of this? The message it sends to someone like me is that you don’t care enough.”

World Rugby has now issued a statement on the matter, underlining its stance against racism.

“World Rugby welcomes reports that the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) continues to undertake a full investigation into racist social media comments attributed to members of the senior men’s national 15s team,” reads the statement.

“World Rugby is currently seeking a better understanding of the process being undertaken by the UAR and its status and looks forward to receiving a full update.

“Clearly the comments, or any form of discrimination, are unacceptable and completely opposed to the strong, universal and inclusive values that the rugby family aspires to live and uphold. There is simply no place for them, and such behaviour rightly warrants full and appropriate investigation by the union.

“Rugby must continue to unite against racism through actions, not just words, set a positive example to society, and move forward strengthened by our inclusivity and diversity.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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