The Argentina Rugby Union’s decision to restore Pablo Matera as captain and lift his suspension along with the bans for Guido Petti and Santiago Socino ahead of this Saturday’s Tri-Nations finale versus Australia has understandably proven to be controversial. 

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Matera was stripped of his captaincy on Tuesday and suspended by the UAR alongside Petti and Socino for “discriminatory and xenophobic” social media posts made between 2011 and 2013, but a turnaround was announced on Thursday due to the players’ change of character in the intervening years.

“During the statement, the three players expressed their deep regret, reiterated the apology, ratified that it is not what they think and that it was a reckless act typical of immaturity,” said he UAR in a statement. 

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“At the time of preliminary issuance, the disciplinary committee has considered and valued the attitude of the three players during this process. It understands that they have not repeated similar actions during these more than eight years and that they have shown during this time to be people with firm and upright values, worthy of being part of our team.”

This response has fallen short of what many were expecting, however, and there has been an emphatic response online. 

While many seem to appreciate that the players may well have changed significantly since they were teenagers, this week’s controversy was viewed as an opportunity to educate which has consequently been missed. The three players have been unreservedly apologetic, but an explanation was demanded as to why they held such views in the first place and what change has occurred since the time of their posts. 

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It should be noted that the statement also said that the players “made themselves available to the commission to investigate the circumstances and seek to amend the damage caused” and that “the commission will reach a final resolution in the next few days”, but at this moment in time this response by Argentina has not gone down well.

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