Thursday, February 22, 2024

Argentina’s China tour canceled due to Messi’s absence

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All of Argentina’s scheduled friendly matches in China were canceled by local authorities after Lionel Messi did not play in last weekend’s match against Inter Miami in Hong Kong.

The Beijing Football Association announced on Saturday that the friendly match between Argentina and Ivory Coast scheduled for March will not be held. The news came a day after Hangzhou sports authorities also canceled the Argentina-Nigeria friendly match.

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Messi’s failure to play in Hong Kong on Sunday sparked anger among fans, with Chinese state newspaper Global Times reporting that “the impact of this incident goes far beyond the realm of sports.”

“Beijing currently has no plans to host matches in which Lionel Messi was scheduled to participate,” the Beijing Football Association said in a statement to local media.

Messi, who did not play in the friendly due to a reported injury, later came on in the second half of the friendly between Inter Miami and Vissel Kobe in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Tatler Asia, the organizer of the Hong Kong friendly match, announced a 50% refund on tickets costing up to HK$5,000 (approximately 63,000 yen) following criticism from the Hong Kong government.

Inter Miami has won just one of six games on a preseason tour that started from El Salvador, went to Dallas, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and ended in Tokyo. The team’s final preliminary match is scheduled for February 16th in Florida against Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood club in Rosario, Argentina.

This report used information from Reuters and Associated Press.

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