Argentina is moved by elitist and xenophobic rugby

On November 28, the Agentine players arrived on the lawn of Newcastle Stadium (Australia) for their match against New Zealand with a thin black armband on their arm to commemorate Maradona's death. Their opponents, the All Blacks, have, them, dropped off a black football shirt with 10 logo (Maradona's number

Argentina’s famous rugby team, Pumas, are under fire after old xenophobic, sexist and classist tweets have surfaced. Three players are concerned, including Pablo Matera: the Argentine Rugby Union has withdrawn his captain’s armband, and the 27-year-old young man has also been summoned by the Stade Français, where he has been playing since 2019. The management of the club will ask him to give an explanation on his return from the Rugby Championship, which is currently being played in Australia.

“Beautiful morning to go out for a drive and run over black people” ; “Hatred towards Bolivians, Paraguayans, etc. comes from the time when a hair of the maid fell in your meal “ ; “What is a boniche pregnant with triplets?” A cleaning kit “… The tweets of Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino, published between 2011 and 2013 shocked public opinion, and reinforced the perception of an elitist and xenophobic sport, historically practiced by Argentines from the most affluent social classes and who feel superior to the rest of society.

The rugby players may have apologized and deleted their Twitter accounts, the damage was done. “This is the first time that society has so massively repudiated the world of rugby, which was previously sacred in Argentina”, estimates Diego Murzi, sociologist specializing in sport, researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research.

“A feeling of omnipotence”

A reputation already damaged after the sordid murder of Fernando Baez Sosa. In January 2020, the 19-year-old was severely beaten on the way out of a nightclub in Villa Gesell (seaside resort in the province of Buenos Aires) by a rugby team who called him “Black shit”.

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In mid-November, the prosecution requested the opening of a trial to try the eight suspected murderers of the young man, who could face at least 15 years in prison. “Rugby players have a feeling of omnipotence, which comes not only from their social class, their money, but also their massive body”, judge Diego Murzi.

“Just like the racist tweets of the Pumas, the murder of Fernando Baez Sosa responds, to an obviously much more serious degree, to the same racist and anti-popular logics which are reproduced in the world of rugby”, denounces the sociologist. He distinguishes between rugby and football, a sport immensely popular in Argentina where macho codes apply just as much as in rugby, but where racism and classism are less widespread.

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