China cancels Argentina vs Nigeria friendly after fury over non-playing Messi’s ‘insult’

February 12 – The fallout from Lionel Messi’s failure to play for Inter Miami in an exhibition match in Hong Kong has spread with both of Argentina’s upcoming friendly matches as part of a tour of mainland China cancelled by local authorities.

Messi, 36, said he could not play in Hong Kong because of a groin injury, only to feature off the bench three days later in a game against Vissel Kobe in Japan that wrapped up Inter Miami’s global promotional tour.

Now it appears Messi won’t be playing internationally either in Asia.

The world champions, captained by Messi, last month scheduled a tour of China during the international break from March 18-26 with games lined up against Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing.

But both of these have been called off, fuelling a PR disaster.

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

The news came 24 hours after Chinese sports authorities also called off Argentina’s scheduled game with Nigeria in Hangzhou.

Pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong are still fuming at Messi’s no-show there.

Regina Ip, a leading member of the Executive Council, Hong Kong’s Cabinet, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Messi should never be allowed to return to Hong Kong. His lies and hypocrisy are disgusting.”

Tatler Asia, who organised Miami’s friendly at the Hong Kong Stadium, are offering a 50% refund on fans who attended the match.

In a statement slamming the MLS outfit, they said: “When we learned that Messi would not be playing, we pleaded with Inter Miami CF ownership and management to urge him to stand up, engage with the spectators and explain why he couldn’t play.

“He didn’t. The fact that Messi and (team mate Luis) Suarez played in Japan on February 7 feels like another slap in the face.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1709386029labto1709386029ofdlr1709386029owedi1709386029sni@w1709386029ahsra1709386029w.wer1709386029dna1709386029



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