Argentina have suspended Pablo Matera and stripped him of the Los Pumas captaincy for posting racist comments on social media.
It is a significant fall from grace for the former Leicester Tigers flanker, who has been stood down pending a disciplinary process along with teammates Guido Petti and Santiago Socino.
A little more than two weeks after Matera led Argentina to their first-ever win over New Zealand, the 27-year-old now stands at a scandal that has rocked the international game.
In social media posts dated between 2011 and 2013, Matera is alleged to written posts speaking of ‘running over blacks’ with his car and also disparaging Bolivians and Paraguayans.
The posts have since been deleted and Matera, Petti and Socino have had all their social media accounts closed.
A statement released by the UAR read: “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.”
The news comes after the team’s Tri-Nations hopes were eviscerated by a 38-0 thumping by the All Blacks last weekend.
Now suspended for an undetermined period of time, Matera issued a public apology.
“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 represented Leicester Tigers over a two-year spell at Welford Road, leaving in 2015 to return to Buenos Aires to prepare for the Jaguares’ inaugural season in Super Rugby a year later.