- Messi did not play last weekend’s game due to injury, which generated outrage
- International competitions against Ivory Coast and Nigeria are suspended
- DailyMail.com provides the latest international sports news.
The Argentine men’s soccer team will no longer play a pair of international matches in China after the country’s sporting icon, Lionel Messi, did not play for his club team, Inter Miami, during a pre-season friendly in Hong Kong on Last weekend.
Both of the defending World Cup champions’ matches against Nigeria and Ivory Coast are suspended due to what appears to be a retaliatory measure against Messi’s country.
Messi missed the match in Hong Kong through injury after playing as a second-half substitute during Inter Miami’s preseason world tour that only came to fruition because Messi decided to play in Major League Soccer.
Local fans were outraged at not being able to see the soccer legend take the field, and the Beijing Football Association said in a statement that it did not plan to recognize any matches in which Messi participated.
The Hangzhou sports bureau cited a similar reasoning for canceling Friday’s game against Nigeria. That led to Saturday’s announcement in Beijing.
Messi participated in the second half of Inter Miami’s match in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Messi is one of the biggest soccer stars of all time and can draw a huge crowd anywhere in the world.
The organizers of the Hong Kong friendly, Tatler Asia, announced a 50% refund of tickets, following criticism from the local government for Messi’s non-participation.
Some tickets cost more than the equivalent of $600 for the Hong Kong match.
Inter Miami’s pre-season MLS tour has been unprecedented for an American club, spanning the globe with matches in El Salvador, Dallas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Saudi Arabia.
The final preseason match of Inter Miami’s world tour returns to the United States on Friday.
The match will be against Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood Argentine club, in Miami.