Rugby

Zebo Castigates 'Pathetic' World Rugby Response To Argentina Racism Controversy

Zebo Castigates 'Pathetic' World Rugby Response To Argentina Racism Controversy

Simon Zebo has described World Rugby's belated response to racist tweets made by three Argentinian rugby players as "pathetic".

Argentina captain Pablo Matera along with Guido Petti and Santiago Socino were initially suspended by the Argentine Rugby Union for tweets which were disparaging of black people and people from other South American countries.

However, those suspensions were subsequently lifted and Matera was reinstated as Argentina captain.

"It’s not as if those tweets are 20 or 30 years ago, you know? They’re only 7-8 years ago, so it’s pretty disgusting," Zebo told the Rugbypass Offload podcast.

"You know, people say ‘Oh he can change’ or whatever, but I think if you’re saying things of that severity, I think you just probably get better at hiding it. Hiding your racism, I think that’s very prominent in this day and age. A lot of people are just closet racists.

"I’d never expect to have seen something like that. I’d never, ever, play in a team with him in the changing room, or someone who has done something like that in the past.

"It wasn’t exactly a slip of the tongue or something, that’s literally one of the worst things you can say or one of the worst mentalities you can have.

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"And I’ve spoken to people who know him and they say he’s had a tough childhood and he’s been through a lot, so you can understand, but sorry, you can’t understand anything [about those posts]. I just understand the point of view that he might have changed and rugby might have helped him grow, but I still think he’s just better at hiding it like a lot of other racists."

What annoyed the Racing 92 player even more was the lateness of World Rugby's response and that it only appeared to come when former England player Ugo Monye criticised rugby's governing body.

"It took them [almost] two weeks to say something," said Zebo.

"They said they were investigating or trying to find out [what had happened], but the tweets are there, black and white. You look at them, you read them. Surely they’ve had dialogue with the UAR before this, so I just think it’s very disappointing.

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"Ugo Moyne put it quite well on BT Sport. He said rugby wants to combat racism, until rugby has to combat racism. It's very disappointing that nothing has been said or done. It was such a great opportunity to do so.

"He was the first person that came out and said that he was disappointed in World Rugby and properly had a go at them. Everything until then had been about Matera and the comments.

"It was the next day or two days later that they released an official statement. It just shows that they're ticking a box. They're just keeping up with the trend. It's not at the forefront of their minds. It's not something they're trying their hardest to eradicate, clearly if it's taken them over two weeks to say something.

"They've had two weeks to come up with change that they could enforce, punishment that they could enforce. Two weeks to just say, bullshit basically, that 'Oh, yeah, we're looking at the situation'. It's pathetic."

Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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PJ Browne
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