Lionel Messi and Inter Miami faced backlash in China after Messi missed a game against Hong Kong XI. The planned Argentina friendlies in March in China have been canceled following this incident. The Hangzhou sports authorities canceled the Argentina-Nigeria friendly, and the Beijing Football Association announced that the second game against Ivory Coast will not be played.
Messi sat out the friendly against the Hong Kong XI due to an adductor injury, causing outrage among fans and the government. Event organizers and Inter Miami both released statements apologizing for Messi’s absence. It was initially guaranteed that Messi, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquet, and Luis Suárez would play at least 45 minutes unless injured. Suárez was also hurt and did not play. As a result, fans will receive 50% refunds for the event.
Despite the cancellation of games in China, there is potential for the games against Nigeria and Ivory Coast to still be played during the March international break. The Argentinian Football Association will look into different locations to hold the friendlies. Nonetheless, Messi finished Inter Miami’s Asian tour by playing 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe on Wednesday in Tokyo.