Pablo Matera reinstated as Argentina captain, as UAR lift suspensions on trio

Argentina have reinstated Pablo Matera as captain and has had his suspension for ‘discriminatory and xenophobic’ social media posts lifted, along with teammates Guido Petti and Santi Socino.

The trio were given suspensions pending a disciplinary process that would investigate posts made between 2011 and 2013.

One post by Matera was alleged to include the comment ‘running over blacks’, while another disparaged Bolivians and Paraguayans.

Flanker Matera, 27, lock Petti and hooker Socino had their social media accounts closed on instruction by the Union Argentina de Rugby (UAR) on Tuesday when reports in the country broke the story.

But the UAR say such an action, together with the suspensions, were ‘unnecessary’, citing the apologies issued by the players and their positive demeanour with the national team in recent times. It will, however, continue its disciplinary process.

“The preventive measures are unnecessary so we have resolved to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy to Pablo Matera,” the UAR said in a statement.

“The disciplinary process continues and the commission will arrive at a final resolution in the next few days.”

There has been the suggestion in the wake of Tuesday’s bans that the posts had been unearthed by Argentinians displeased with Los Pumas’ lack of tribute to football icon Diego Maradona, who passed away last week at the age of 60.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma, former World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot, and the country’s most-capped player Agustin Creevy – now of London Irish – leapt to the defence of Matera.

“All I can say about these three fine players and great men is that they are great human beings,” said Ledesma.

“They have been suffering a lot this week, their families have been suffering a lot this week, and it’s really sad to see. Obviously they acknowledge what they did and they are really regretful and ashamed of what they did, and we all are.

“I can say they are not the same people they were when they were 17, 18 years old.

“They are great men, family men, Pablo has a kid now, he’s a great leader and a great example.”

As Argentinian rugby now leaves itself open to condemnation for failing to take discrimination seriously, the trio have not been named in the team to face Australia this weekend in the final match of the Tri-Nations series.

A decision taken by Ledesma who said the trio had faced ‘a lot of hate’ since the posts were discovered.

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