Hangzhou cancels Argentina friendly as Messi fallout grows in China

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Chinese sporting authorities have cancelled next month’s friendly international between Argentina and Nigeria amid a growing backlash against Lionel Messi‘s failure to play in an Inter Miami match in Hong Kong last week.

Argentina was scheduled to play Nigeria in the Chinese city of Hangzhou next month before facing the Ivory Coast in Beijing, but Messi’s failure to take the field for Inter Miami in Hong Kong on Sunday caused widespread anger among fans.

The organiser of the Hong Kong match said they would give fans a 50% refund for tickets after the Argentine did not take the field due to injury, but played in Japan days later.

The backlash grew on Friday, with Hangzhou sports authorities saying that Argentina’s friendly against Nigeria would no longer take place.

“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,” the Hangzhou authorities said in a statement

“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.”

It was not immediately clear if Argentina’s other friendly against Ivory Coast in Beijing would also be cancelled.

The Chinese FA did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent outside normal business hours.

The Argentine FA also did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Tatler Asia, a privately owned publishing and lifestyle company, said in a statement on its Instagram page that it was “deeply sorry” and “heartbroken” that fans were let down after Messi stayed on the bench during Sunday’s match.