Pablo Matera reinstated as Argentina captain as his and team-mates' suspensions lifted

Pablo Matera
Pablo Matera has been Argentina captain since 2018

Pablo Matera has been reinstated as Argentina captain and had his and two team-mates' suspensions for "discriminatory and xenophobic" comments on social media lifted.

Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino were suspended on Tuesday for posts made between 2011 and 2013.

But the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) now says such measures were "unnecessary".

It said the players' apologies and good behaviour in the years since meant their suspensions could be lifted.

"The preventive measures are unnecessary so we have resolved to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy to Pablo Matera," the UAR said in a statement.

"The disciplinary process continues and the commission will arrive at a final resolution in the next few days."

Flanker Matera, lock Petti and hooker Socino had their social media accounts closed on Tuesday but screenshots of historical posts which disparaged black people and people from other South American nations circulated widely.

The UAR said the posts were "imprudent and immature".

Their discovery had followed criticism of the team for not doing enough to mark the death of Argentina football legend Diego Maradona before their defeat against New Zealand on Saturday.

The trio have not been named in the Pumas' squad this Saturday's Test against Australia to protect them after they received "a lot of hate" since the posts were discovered, said Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma.

"All I can say about these three fine players and great men is that they are great human beings," he said.

"They have been suffering a lot this week, their families have been suffering a lot this week, and it's really sad to see. Obviously they acknowledge what they did and they are really regretful and ashamed of what they did, and we all are."

Matera, 27, who plays his club rugby for Stade Francais, has won 69 caps and led his side to a famous victory over New Zealand on 14 November.

"I can say they are not the same people they were when they were 17, 18 years old," added Ledesma.

"They are great men, family men, Pablo has a kid now, he's a great leader and a great example."

Centre Jeronimo de la Fuente will lead the side against Australia on Saturday, with Matias Alemanno replacing Petti in a new second row with Marcos Kremer. Santiago Grondona takes Matera's spot at blind-side flanker.

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