China cancels a friendly of the Argentina team after the controversy with Messi in Hong Kong | Soccer | Sports

The Sports Office of the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou announced yesterday the cancellation of a friendly match that the Argentine soccer team was supposed to play in March, amid controversy over Leo Messi’s absence from an exhibition match in Hong Kong. The office stated that “the conditions do not exist” for the event to be held, according to the local newspaper. Global Timesa few hours after the absence of Lionel Messi in the match that Inter Miami played last Sunday against a Hong Kong team due to abductor discomfort and which has caused blisters in the Asian giant.

The Argentine Football Association had officially confirmed that the Argentine team would play two friendly matches in China in March 2024. Lionel Scaloni’s team had to face Nigeria in Hangzhou, the entity indicated on its website. The second announced match was against the Ivory Coast in Beijing, for which there is still no official cancellation. The exhibition match that pitted the Hong Kong team against Inter Miami on Sunday was intended to be a spectacle, but it became a story of disenchantment and widespread anger, since the Argentine soccer legend did not even put on his boots and look at the game from the side, due to some discomfort.

Chinese press and fans have criticized Messi for his supposed “impassive” and “expressive” attitude during his stay in Hong Kong while in Japan, where he played half an hour of the match in another friendly on Wednesday, “he seemed like a different person” and “greeted to all the world”. Messi apologized to his Chinese fans on the Messi’s club, Inter Miami, clarified for its part that it was simply “too risky” for Messi to play. Tatler Asia, the company organizing the duel, said yesterday in a statement that it will refund 50 percent of the ticket price after the criticism received for the Argentine’s absence.

According to Argentine sources related to the party’s hiring in Hangzhou, “the cancellation is due to bureaucratic problems.” The situation of discomfort that arose in Hong Kong due to not being able to see Messi on the pitch, therefore, and according to the same sources, “has nothing to do with the cancellation of Hangzhou.” With the Hangzhou match suspended, it remains to be seen whether the second match set in Beijing against the Ivory Coast will be maintained, although the same sources assure that “another venue where two matches can be organized for the international date” could be sought.

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