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Diego Maradona backlash suspected to be behind Pumas' racist tweet controversy

The Pumas suspect angry Argentineans are behind the resurfacing of racist tweets from players.

The Sydney Morning Herald says sources close to the team believes it's in retaliation to their lack of a tribute to late footballing icon Diego Maradona, who died last week.

Many fans have voiced their anger on social media towards to the team, who only wore a black armband and were upstaged by the All Blacks who laid a jersey with Maradona's name and number 10 on the back.

The action taken by the New Zealanders has largely been praised in the South American country.

The public outrage was so bad, the Pumas were forced to issue an apology video to explain themselves. 

The storm over the tweets has put the team in crisis mode ahead of Saturday's final Tri Nations clash with the Wallabies, so much so that Pablo Matera has been stripped of the captaincy.

The comments — described by Argentina's rugby union as "discriminatory and xenophobic" — between 2011 and 2013 from Matera, Guido Pettit and Santiago Socino have seen them suspended for the Test match.

"The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social networks," the UAR said in a statement yesterday.

"Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the integrity as people that the three showed during this time in Los Pumas, from the Argentine Rugby Union we condemn any expression of hatred and consider it unacceptable."

Diego Maradona in 1986 final v West Germany. Source: Associated Press

Maradona, a 1986 FIFA World Cup winner and one of the greatest footballers of all time, died from a heart attack last week at the age of 60.