Argentina Friendlies in China Cancelled Amid Messi Controversy

Chinese officials have announced the cancellation of two Argentina friendlies scheduled to take place in the country following a contentious situation involving Lionel Messi’s absence from a match in Hong Kong. The cancellation comes after Messi did not play for Inter Miami in a match against a Hong Kong XI, sparking outrage among fans in China.

The world champions were slated to play against Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing in March. However, the decision to cancel these matches stems from dissatisfaction among Chinese fans regarding Messi’s non-participation in the Hong Kong match.

Messi, 36, cited a groin injury as the reason for his absence from the Hong Kong XI match. Yet, his subsequent appearance off the bench three days later against Vissel Kobe in Japan raised eyebrows and drew criticism from Chinese fans.

In response to the uproar, the Beijing Football Association announced on Saturday that they do not intend to proceed with the match in which Messi was expected to participate. Similarly, the cancellation of the Hangzhou match was confirmed by the city’s sports bureau on Friday, citing unspecified reasons.

The decision to cancel the friendlies reflects the disappointment and frustration of Chinese fans, who expressed their discontent by jeering Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham during the match in Hong Kong. Demands for refunds were echoed by fans, prompting match organizers Tatler Asia to offer a 50% refund to disgruntled attendees.

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