The Sports Bureau of the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou announced on Friday the cancellation of a friendly match that the Argentina national football team was due to play in March, amid controversy over the absence of Leo Messi in an exhibition match in Hong Kong.
The office stated that "the conditions are not met" for the event, according to the local newspaper 'Global Times', a few hours after Lionel Messi's absence from Inter Miami's match against a Hong Kong team last Sunday due to abductor discomfort and that has not sat well in China.
The Argentine Football Association had officially confirmed that the 'Albiceleste' would play two friendly matches in China in March 2024. Lionel Scaloni's team were due to play Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing. Neither of them will take place.
Regarding the latter, the Beijing Football Association assured that "no matches involving Leo Messi are scheduled". "Beijing has no plans, for the moment, to organise any match involving Messi," the Beijing Football Association said in a statement reported by local media.
Messi apologised to his Chinese fans on the X-like Weibo social network just before Wednesday's match, saying it was "a real pity" he was unable to play in Hong Kong due to injury and even expressed his thoughts on returning to China.
"Hopefully we can come back and we can play a game in Hong Kong, and I hope I can also come back to China as soon as possible and say hello to all of you," he said. Neither his words nor those of Inter Miami, who said it was "too risky" for the No.10 to play, have helped China to forgive the former Barcelona man.Read on besoccer.com