Hangzhou, Beijing cancel Argentina international friendlies following Messi backlash

Featured Image: Cristian Tarzi on Unsplash

Sporting authorities in Hangzhou and Beijing have cancelled international friendlies between Argentina and Nigeria, as well as Argentina and Ivory Coast, following backlash around Lionel Messi’s non-appearance in a recent Inter Miami exhibition match in Hong Kong. 

Argentina was set to face Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing next month.

The cancellations come after Messi did not feature in a friendly between Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Inter Miami and a Hong Kong XI earlier this month, causing anger among ticket-holders and the government.

Tatler Asia, which organised the match, offered attendees a 50% refund after the World Cup winner did not take to the pitch. Messi went on to play in a match in Japan a few days later.

In a statement, Hangzhou Sports Bureau announced the Argentina vs Nigeria cancellation and said: “As a commercial event, a company and the Argentinean soccer team negotiated that the team would play a friendly match in March this year in the city of Hangzhou.

“In view of the current well-known reasons, according to the competent authorities, conditions to hold the friendly match are not mature, therefore (we) have decided to cancel it.”

The Beijing Football Association then followed suit by cancelling the Argentina vs Ivory Coast friendly a day later.

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