Tuesday, March 5, 2024

China cancels both Argentina matches as anger over Messi’s absence in Hong Kong game grows

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Lionel Messi’s Argentina will not be playing in China in March 2024. AP

Lionel Messi missing Inter Miami’s exhibition match in Hong Kong has resulted in local football authorities cancelling Argentina’s two friendly matches which were to take part in China next month. The Beijing Football Association on Saturday announced that they will not be hosting Argentina’s friendly against Ivory Coast in Beijing in March.

“Beijing does not plan, for the moment, to organise the match in which Lionel Messi was to participate,” the Beijing Football Association said.

On Friday, Chinese sports authorities had cancelled Hangzhou match in which Argentina were scheduled to take on Nigeria in a friendly match.

Read: Drama in Hong Kong over Messi no-show another reminder as to why fans matter

The two friendly matches for world champions Argentina was scheduled last month according to which the Messi-led side were to be in China during the international break from 18-26 March.

But the matches have now been cancelled in a fallout from the furore over Messi missing the exhibition match in Hong Kong, where Miami played a team of local players last Sunday, due to groin injury. As Messi stayed on the bench, angry fans jeered at the world champion Argentine player and Inter co-owner David Beckham. They also demanded their money back.

The people of Hong Kong and China have been further enraged by the fact that Messi played for 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo on Wednesday in an exhibition match.

Due to the controversy, the organisers of Hong Kong match, Tatler Asia, has promised a 50% refund.

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