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'The things they wrote are not acceptable' - Former Argentina captain Contepomi on Pumas' racism controversy

By Ciarán Kennedy
Contempomi during his playing days with Argentina.

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Former Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi says that racist social media posts by three Pumas players which recently came to light are “not acceptable.” Argentina’s Guido Petto, Santiago Socino and captain Pablo Matera have been at the centre of a racism storm after old social media posts resurfaced in the wake of the Pumas’ 38-0 defeat to the All Blacks last month.


All three players were suspended, with Matera also stripped of the captaincy, only for the UAR to reverse the decision and reinstate the players just two days later. Matera had posted an apology for his comments before deleting his social media accounts.

Yesterday World Rugby released a statement welcoming an investigation into the matter.

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And speaking shortly before that statement was released, former Argentina out-half Contepomi, who is currently working as attack coach with Leinster, had his say on the issue.

“I condemn totally anything coming from racism or xenophobic comments,” Contepomi said.

“Having said that, they were tweets from eight, nine years ago when these guys were youths. One thing for me that is important to understand is rugby is a way to not only to make (people) better players, but more so help you to be a better person.

“I know Matera had a troublesome youth in terms of some personal issues, in terms of family issues and maybe it wasn’t the best time (in his life) when he wrote those things. The person he is now probably doesn’t reflect what he wrote on those days, (but) it’s not an excuse.

“It is good to see that rugby played a part in informing them, making them better persons. Having said that if that had been written a year ago or this year… the things they wrote are not acceptable. They are not acceptable. Full stop.”

The way the issue was handled led to Ugo Monye stating that rugby has a problem in how it deals with racism.

“I’ve been so frustrated,” Monye told the BBC. “Rugby doesn’t know how to deal with racism, hence why we have seen a U-turn within 48 hours.

“Racism seems to be this outlier forever because no-one wants to own up to it. If you’ve got the union saying it’s immature, that’s what they think it is. Just so we are clear, the comments are not immature — they are racist and vile.”

Contepomi says he understands why Monye would be frustrated with how the UAR dealt with the matter.

“If it (reinstatement) is 24 hours or two weeks later, that’s a process that I haven’t been involved in so I don’t know what’s been going on and why they reinstated them, or, suspended them in the first place. So I can’t comment on what is going on internally,” Contepomi added.

“But yeah, I understand where Ugo is coming from, because I would be in the same boat in terms of I don’t accept racism. I wouldn’t put it in terms of time, just to make that clear, because it’s a tricky question and my English maybe doesn’t help me to explain the thing I want to explain. It’s not about time, it’s more about fairness or justice.”



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