Argentina rugby captain Pablo Matera has revealed how his family was hammered with abusive messages over his tweets which were deemed to be racist and led to him being briefly suspended from the Pumas.
Speaking in France where he plays his club rugby, Matera said he was just “an immature boy” when he posted the tweets, between 2011 and 2013, which came to light while he was on national duty in Australia at the Tri-Nations tournament earlier this month
“I imagine there are a lot of people who have felt offended, hurt and I would like to ask their forgiveness,” the 27-year-old told Canal Plus on Sunday.
“It was a really bad use of social media with my friends from high school. I just want to let people know that I don’t believe any of these words, that they do not represent my values in any way.”
The flanker was an inspirational leader for the Pumas when they drew worldwide attention with their first-ever win over the All Blacks at the Tri-Nations shortly before the furore erupted.
Matera, who plays with Stade Francais, Jaguares hooker Santiago Socino and Bordeaux lock Guido Petti, were all stood down from the Pumas’ last game of the tournament, which ended with a 16-16 draw with the Wallabies in Sydney.
The tweets were described as “discriminatory” and “xenophobic” posts.
However, just two days after Argentine rugby officials said the tweets were “unacceptable”, player power led to the trio’s reinstatement to the squad.
“At the time of these tweets, I was an immature boy, quite a rebellious boy,” Matera said.
“I was not an easy child to raise for my mother. A lot of time has passed, and when I look back I see how much I have grown as a person.”
But Matera’s family has since suffered from the ordeal, the target of a stream of “malicious messages” as a consequence of the row.
“This is what made me suffer the most, to have involuntarily involved them in this horrible situation,” he said.
“The most important thing for me today is to know that I made a mistake. Today, I just ask for forgiveness and move on.”
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