Monye hits out at Argentina union after lifting of Matera suspension

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - London Irish v Harlequins - Aviva Premiership - Twickenham Stadium - 6/9/14 Ugo Monye of Harlequins runs in to score their first try Action Images / Paul Harding Livepic

(Reuters) - Former England wing Ugo Monye has criticised the Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) for rescinding its sanction against captain Pablo Matera, saying the governing body is more interested in protecting its players than in dealing with racism.

Flanker Matera was stripped of the captaincy and, along with lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino, suspended on Tuesday for comments posted between 2011 and 2013 which disparaged Black people and those from other South American nations.

But the UAR on Thursday said the players' apologies, combined with their good behaviour in the years since the comments were posted, meant the suspension could be lifted.

"I've been so frustrated," Monye, who was capped 14 times by England between 2008-2012, told the BBC. "Rugby doesn't know how to deal with racism, hence why we have seen a U-turn within 48 hours.

"Racism seems to be this outlier forever because no one wants to own up to it. If you've got the union saying it's immature, that's what they think it is. Just so we are clear, the comments are not immature -- they are racist and vile."

Monye also condemned the abuse Matera received online in response to the comments.

"For those people that have tweeted him and his family - shame on you too," he said. "That is not how we move forward."

"I wouldn't want to be judged on the person I was eight years ago. I'm not saying that's what we need to do with Matera. But I want it to be acknowledged and dealt with in the appropriate fashion.

"The UAR are more interested in protecting their player than they are in dealing with the issue of racism which affects millions of people every single day."

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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