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.
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.
“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.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 3, 2020
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.
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.
Dreadful. Reversal based on assumed reformation of character. This was a chance for them to go and prove it: educate themselves, engage with the community to educate others etc. Return with a portfolio of the time & energy spent on this before they are even considered “reformed”.
— Gareth Cartwright (@GJCartwright) December 3, 2020
Chance to set the right example and educate been missed. Chance to stand up to racism ignored. Brushed under the carpet big time. Poor.
— Ryan Bath (@ryanbath1979) December 3, 2020
What a mess. At least keep them suspended and let a full investigation arrive at some useful outcomes. I’m sure they’ve changed in 7-8 years but use that to address the educational issues from that era, or are they all ‘fixed’ now? I doubt that.
— Ian James (@ij1971) December 3, 2020
This is rubbish ????? I understand they were young/ naive etc but your basically saying you can be a little bit racist as long as it was a while ago and still captain your country as the ultimate role model.
Personally loved Matera, but will struggle to see him same way.
— Luke John Makepeace (@Luke_JM1989) December 3, 2020
How can boards expect people to take a zero tolerance stance on racism if they don’t, what example is this setting to children across Argentina which has a complex history with race anyway. Disgraceful in my opinion.
— Callum Hoy (@callum_hoy4) December 3, 2020
This is a piss poor attempt at an apology. Maybe something lost in translation but it’s still not a good look. Painting himself as a victim because racist comments he made have consequences.
— Iain Dolan (@iain_dolan) December 3, 2020
Argentina basically endorsing racism. The other southern hemisphere unions in particular need to respond to this very strongly
— Mike McGuckin (@mikeni77) December 3, 2020
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