Argentina’s friendly match against Nigeria in a city in mainland China has been called off due to the ongoing dispute over Lionel Messi’s no-show. Messi, who was due to play another friendly in Hong Kong with his club Inter Miami last week, did not make the pitch, instead sitting on the bench for the entire game, citing a hamstring injury.
A friendly match between Argentina and Nigeria has been canceled in a city in mainland China due to fan backlash over Lionel Messi’s no-show.
Messi was due to play in another friendly in Hong Kong for his club team Inter Miami, but the 36-year-old did not play a minute of the match, instead remaining on the bench.
This led to boos, jeers and demands for refunds from the 40,000 sell-out fans who expected the forward to take the pitch, forcing Messi to come off and insist he wanted to play but couldn’t due to a hamstring injury.
The Hong Kong government previously said Messi was contracted to play 45 minutes of Inter Miami’s match against League XI, which the Major League Soccer team won 4-1.
David Beckham, the co-founder of Miami, was then overwhelmed by an angry crowd at his full-time address.
“I always want to play, especially in these games where we travel so far and people want to see our games,” Messi said.
“Unfortunately, that happens in football. In any game, you can’t play.”
“Hopefully we can come back and play a game in Hong Kong.
Now that Argentina is scheduled to face Nigeria at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, the Hangzhou Sports Authority has posted a WeChat update announcing that the game has been canceled “for a reason known to everyone”.
“The conditions for the event are immature and it has been decided that the event should be cancelled,” it read.
Messi’s half-hour cameo against Japanese side Vissel Kobe caused further uproar, with many seeing it as an insult to China.
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