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11th Feb 2024

China cancel Argentina tour and blame Lionel Messi 

Callum Boyle

Lionel Messi

Argentina were set to play two friendlies in China

Argentina have had their two games they were due to play in China cancelled following Lionel Messi’s absence for club side Inter Miami in Hong Kong last week.

The World Cup holders were set to face Nigeria and the Ivory Coast in the summer however it appears that the decision to axe them is to do with Messi not playing.

Messi didn’t play in the game due to injury as Inter Miami’s preseason world tour continued – which came about as a result of playing in the MLS.

Outraged by not being able to see the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in action, locals protested with the the Beijing Football Association saying in a statement it did not plan to recognize any match where Messi participated. 

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

After their game in Hangzhou was cancelled, the official sports bureau said: “Given the reasons that everyone knows, according to the competent authorities, the conditions for the event to take place are not met.”

Fans refunded for Messi absence

Those in attendance in Hong Kong booed Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham and even chanted for their money back as a result of not getting to see Messi play.

Match organisers Tatler Asia has since confirmed that they will offer a 50 per cent refund to all of those who went to the game.

Frustrations were made even more apparent when Messi featured as a second half substitute in Inter Miami’s friendly against Japanese side Vissel Kobe three days later.

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