• Argentina trio escape long-term ban for racist tweets

    The Argentina Rugby Union has lifted the temporary suspension of Pablo Matera and two senior players for their racist and xenophobic tweets.

    The move comes after reports that Argentina’s players had threatened to strike over the suspensions of Matera as well as lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Sociono.

    Matera was stripped of the captaincy on Tuesday and he, Petti and Socino were suspended for posting comments discriminating against black people between 2011 and 2013.

    ALSO READ: What Matera wrote on Twitter

    None of the three players were included in the match-day 23 to face Australia in the final match of the 2020 Tri-Nations in Sydney on Saturday, with centre Jeronimo de la Fuente selected to lead the team.

    UAR said the players’ apologies, combined with their good behaviour in the years since the comments were posted, means the suspension can be lifted.

    ‘The preventive measures are unnecessary so we have resolved to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy to Pablo Matera,’ a statement from the UAR read.

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

    ‘The three players expressed their profound regret, they repeated their apology and once again said this was not what they think and that it was an imprudent and immature act.’

    Sources close to the Argentinian team said they believe the Matera tweets were dug up and shared online to sabotage the team after they’d been the subject of an intense backlash from the Argentinian public for a perceived lack of respect for soccer legend Maradona in the wake of his passing last week.

    The Argentinians wore black armbands as a tribute to the 60-year-old, but the gesture was overshadowed by the All Blacks’ tribute to the soccer legend, with New Zealand captain Sam Cane laying down a No 10 jersey with Maradona’s name on the back prior to performing the Test haka.

    Matera has taken the tweets down and suspended his Twitter account, but did publish an apology on his Instagram account, saying he was ‘ashamed’.

    Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images