Argentina-Nigeria Friendly in Hangzhou Cancelled By The Chinese Because of Messi’s No Show in a Match in Hong Kong

Argentina-Nigeria Friendly in Hangzhou Cancelled By The Chinese Because of Messi’s No Show in a Match in Hong Kong

In a shocking turn of events, Chinese sporting authorities have made the unprecedented decision to cancel the upcoming friendly international between Argentina and Nigeria in Hangzhou.

The move comes in the wake of growing public anger over football sensation Lionel Messi’s failure to take the field in an Inter Miami match held in Hong Kong last week.

Backlash Grows: Refund Controversy and Event Cancellation

Initially scheduled to play Nigeria in Hangzhou before a match in Beijing against the Ivory Coast, Messi’s absence during Inter Miami’s 4-1 victory against Hong Kong All-Stars triggered a wave of discontent among fans.

The organizers, in response to the backlash, offered a 50% refund for tickets.

However, the situation escalated further, prompting Hangzhou sports authorities to announce the cancellation of the Argentina-Nigeria friendly, citing it as a commercial event with negotiations between a company and the Argentinian soccer team.

Messi’s Arrival and Controversial Decision to Rest

Upon arriving in Hong Kong after a 6-0 defeat by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in Riyadh, reports indicated that Messi had been carrying a hamstring injury.

Hong Kong’s sports minister revealed Messi had a contractual obligation to play for at least 45 minutes, but Inter Miami’s manager, Gerardo Martino, opted not to bring him on during the match against Hong Kong All-Stars, leading to dissatisfaction among the 40,000 fans present.

Financial Fallout and Government’s Reaction

With reports initially suggesting fans might not be reimbursed, discontent escalated, resulting in some fans taking out their frustration on advertising hoardings.

The Hong Kong government expressed extreme disappointment, hinting at the possibility of withdrawing £1.6 million in funding to the event organizers due to Messi’s non-participation.

Managerial Explanation and Messi’s Apology

Miami’s coach, Martino, explained that the decision not to field Messi was made by the club’s medical team, emphasizing the risks involved.

Messi himself, acknowledging the disappointment, revealed his exhaustion and desire to return home due to lingering discomfort from his injury.

He expressed hope for another opportunity to play in Hong Kong, apologizing to fans via the Weibo platform.

Global Times’ Accusations and Organizers’ Heartbreak

China’s state-controlled Global Times launched a scathing attack on Messi, suggesting political motives and accusing him of embarrassing Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, organizers Tatler Asia expressed being “heartbroken” and accused Messi and Inter Miami of a “lack of respect.”

The event, intended to showcase Hong Kong on the global stage, turned into a source of disappointment, leaving organizers and fans disheartened.

Conclusion: A Dream Shattered and Lingering Questions

As the aftermath of Messi’s absence unfolds, the cancellation of the Argentina-Nigeria friendly underscores the broader impact on sporting relations.

Questions linger about the integrity of Inter Miami and Messi, with the fallout leaving a once-promising event in tatters and underscoring the challenges of navigating contractual obligations, fan expectations, and the unpredictability of sports.