Former England international Ugo Monye has labelled the Argentina Rugby Union’s (UAR) u-turn on stripping Pablo Matera of the captaincy as disgraceful.
Matera was originally relieved of his duties as captain of Los Pumas and suspended from the team along with two team mates, after each player was discovered to have made racist tweets in the past.
Just two days later however, the UAR reversed the decision, reinstated Matera as captain as well as lifting each player’s suspension, although none will feature against Australia on Saturday.
🗒️Comunicado oficial sobre el proceso disciplinario a Pablo Matera, Guido Petti y Santiago Socinohttps://t.co/cysqipbFgM
— Unión Argentina de Rugby (@unionargentina) December 3, 2020
The former British and Irish Lion was disappointed by the UAR reversing their decision, feeling it has undermined rugby’s message in fighting racism.
“I’m going to read out what he tweeted. This goes back to 2012. He said, ‘South Africa baby. I’m finally leaving this country full of blacks.’
“Then three days later he tweeted, ‘Nice morning to go out in the car and run over blacks.’ The UAR (Argentina Rugby Union), they’ve come out and said ‘Those posts were imprudent and immature.’
“Rugby doesn’t know how to deal with racism”@ugomonye with a powerful message after Pablo Matera was reinstated as Argentina captain.
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) December 4, 2020
“Just so we’re clear Argentina, they’re not immature – they’re racist. That’s exactly what they are – they’re racist and they’re vile.
“I’ve been so frustrated with this over the last few days. I reached out to Pablo [Matera] on Instagram and sent him a message because he had a torrent of abuse.
“Not just him, his friends and family, his wife – and that’s not a good look. I don’t think it’s right to deal with hate with hate. There has to be a better way.
“The thing for me is the way that Argentina have classified both those tweets. It’s hard to deal with racism if you don’t consider it to be racist at all,” Monye stated.
“Own up to it”
While the former Harlequins winger harboured no ill feeling towards Matera, believing him to be an entirely different person from the one who made the racist tweets, the same can’t be said for his opinion on the UAR.
“I just want to see some level of conviction. Own up to it. Face up to what it is. Let’s deal with it and let’s move on.
“I don’t hate Pablo Matera. I don’t like him for what he was in 2012 but I think he’s a very different person today. I want it to be acknowledged and I want it to be dealt with in the appropriate fashion.
“I’m sick and tired of it. If the UAR want to file that tweet as immature and imprudent we don’t even have a starting position because they haven’t accepted it and they haven’t acknowledged it.
“Their sole interest is to protect one player over the millions of people it affects every day. For me that’s absolutely disgraceful,” Monye said.