Pumas lift suspensions over racist tweets in shock U-turn

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Pablo Matera in action for Argentina in their Tri Nations match against New Zealand at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Sydney on 14 November 2020.
Pablo Matera in action for Argentina in their Tri Nations match against New Zealand at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Sydney on 14 November 2020.
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Argentina's rugby union lifted the interim suspension of skipper Pablo Matera and two other players for racist tweets on Thursday, in a shock U-turn just two days after calling the posts "unacceptable".

The surprise move followed reports that Argentina's players had threatened to strike over the suspensions of Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino for their "discriminatory and xenophobic" tweets.

"The disciplinary process will continue and the commission will reach its final resolution in the coming days," the Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) said in a statement.

"In the first instance, upholding interim measures is unnecessary, and it is decided to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy of Pablo Matera."

None of the three players were named in Argentina's team to play Australia in the final Tri Nations fixture in Sydney on Saturday, where Jeronimo de la Fuente will take the captain's armband.

Matera had earlier said he was "deeply ashamed" of the tweets, posted between 2011-2013 and since deleted, including one where he spoke of "running over blacks" with his car.

The historic tweets resurfaced after criticism that the Pumas did not adequately pay tribute to Argentina football icon Diego Maradona, who died last week, before Saturday's defeat by New Zealand.

In announcing the suspensions on Tuesday, the UAR had said: "The Argentina Rugby Union condemns any instance of hate speech and considers it unacceptable that anyone expressing those views would represent our country."

Teams:

Australia

15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio.

Substitutes: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Salakia-Loto, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Tom Banks

Argentina

15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Santiago Grondona;, 5Marcos Kremer, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Substitutes: 16 Jose Luis Gonzalez, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Francisco Gorrissen, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Santiago Chocobares

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