Argentina captain, players suspended over racist posts

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Argentina Press Conference - Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France - November 16, 2018. Argentina's Pablo Matera during a press conference. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Pablo Matera has been stripped of the Argentina captaincy and suspended along with team mates Guido Petti and Santiago Socino for posting racist comments on social media, the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) said on Tuesday.

The scandal has thrown the Argentina camp into crisis days before their final Tri-Nations match against Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

The UAR said its board had met urgently after revelations that the players had made racist comments on social media between 2011 and 2013.

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas squad on social networks,” the UAR said in a statement.

“Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 … the Argentine Rugby Union condemns any expression of hatred and we consider it unacceptable that those who express them represent our country.”

The UAR said it had requested Pumas staff propose a new captain to the board and have the players stood down pending a “disciplinary process.”

A team spokesman said the Pumas had cancelled all planned media activities on Tuesday and referred Reuters to the UAR’s statement.

Coach Mario Ledesma’s side were thrashed 38-0 by the All Blacks on Saturday, a major reversal from their breakthrough 25-15 win over the New Zealanders in their opening match of the Tri-Nations last month.

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