Argentina rugby international Matias Moroni has defended Pablo Matera after racist tweets posted by the former Pumas captain came to light.
Matera was stood down as the Argentine captain and suspended, along with Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, for offensive tweets each player had made in the past.
The Argentine rugby union was quick to react, releasing a statement saying that none of the three players would be involved in this weekend’s game against Australia in the Tri Nations.
La gente no puede cambiar? Arrepentirse? No está bien ni justifico lo q escribieron a esa edad. Se rectificó y puedo dar fe q no piensa así! Supo dar la cara. Pedir perdón y no esconderse atrás de un escritorio! Hoy Pablo Matera es mi amigo y mi capitán!
— Matias Moroni (@tutemoroni) December 1, 2020
However, Moroni, who recently signed for Leicester Tigers, has defended the trio claiming that he still sees Matera as his captain.
“Can’t people change? Regret? It is not right nor do I justify what they wrote at that age. It was rectified and I can attest that he does not think so!
“He knew how to show his face, apologise and did not hide behind a desk! Today Pablo Matera is my friend and my captain!” Moroni posted to his Twitter account.
‘Apologies to those offended by the atrocities I wrote’
The former Pumas skipper, who led his team to their first-ever victory over the All Blacks just a few weeks ago, apologised for any offence caused by his tweets.
“Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 years ago. I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed.
“Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote. At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become.
“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support,” Matera posted on his Instagram account.
The Pumas flanker has represented his country 62 times to date, but it is not yet known whether he will get another chance to play for Argentina.
Matera also played for the Argentina U20 squad at the 2012 Junior World championship in South Africa, the same year he posted several offensive tweets.