Sunday, March 3, 2024

Chinese city cancels Argentina soccer match after Messi backlash in Hong Kong

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Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi will take part in the friendly soccer match between Vissel Kobe and Inter Miami to be held at the National Stadium in Tokyo on February 7th.

Hong Kong

A city in mainland China has canceled plans to host a soccer match featuring Argentina’s national team amid growing domestic backlash against star player Lionel Messi.

Messi has faced intense criticism after remaining on the bench during an exhibition game against Major League Soccer team Inter Miami in Hong Kong.

A crowd of 40,000 turned out to watch the sold-out match in Hong Kong, many hoping to see the man widely regarded as the world’s best footballer. The match ended on a sour note with fans booing, jeering and demanding refunds for not being allowed on the pitch. .

Messi has since said he wants to play, but an injury has kept him off the field. However, this did not stop the storm of criticism on the Chinese Internet.

The latest sign of China’s dissatisfaction with Messi came on Friday, when the Hangzhou Sports Bureau announced it would no longer hold the Argentina-Nigeria friendly match scheduled to be held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center.

Almost a week ago, the Hangzhou Sports Bureau made no mention of the incident, saying in a WeChat post that the match had been canceled “in view of reasons known to everyone.”

“The conditions for holding the event are not mature enough, so we have decided that it should be canceled.”

The match in Hangzhou was one of two matches Argentina had scheduled in China in March.

They are also scheduled to play against Ivory Coast at Beijing Workers’ Stadium.

When Inter Miami played against the Hong Kong team on February 4, Messi remained a substitute, despite repeated requests from the Hong Kong government and organizers Tatler Asia to play.

The coach later said that Messi had been injured and had been advised by the medical team at the last minute not to play. Messi later said this was “unfortunate” and that he wanted to play.

A few days later, his 30-minute appearance in a friendly against Vissel Kobe in Japan only further angered Chinese fans, with many including pro-China politicians in Hong Kong compared it to an insult.

Messi now faces a public relations nightmare in one of the world’s most lucrative sports markets, where he has enjoyed widespread popularity.

On Friday, Hong Kong match organizer Tatler

“Our hope was to create an iconic moment to support the government’s efforts to remind the world what an important and exciting city Hong Kong is. That dream continues today with Messi on the pitch. “Devastated for everyone who bought a ticket to see it,” said the company, which publishes Tatler-branded magazines across Asia.

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