- Messi did not play in the game due to injury last weekend, sparking outrage
- International contests against the Ivory Coast and Nigeria are now axed
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
The Argentina men’s national soccer team will no longer play a pair of international games in China after the country’s sporting icon, Lionel Messi, did not play for his club team, Inter Miami, during a preseason friendly in Hong Kong last weekend.
Both games for the defending World Cup champions against Nigeria and the Ivory Coast are canned because of what appears to be a retaliatory measure against Messi’s country.
Messi missed the match in Hong Kong with injury after playing as a second-half substitute during Inter Miami’s preseason world tour that only came together because Messi decided to play in Major League Soccer.
Local fans were outraged not getting to see the soccer legend take the pitch, with the Beijing Football Association saying in a statement it did not plan to recognize any match where Messi participated.
Hangzhou’s sports bureau mentioned similar reasoning for canceling the game against Nigeria on Friday. That led to Saturday’s announcement in Beijing.
Messi did participate in the second half of Inter Miami’s game in Tokyo on Wednesday
Messi is one of the biggest soccer stars ever and can draw a big crowd anywhere in the world
The organizers of the Hong Kong friendly, Tatler Asia, did announce a 50% refund on tickets, following criticism from the local government over Messi not playing.
Some tickets cost more than the equivalent of $600 for the Hong Kong match.
Inter Miami’s pre-MLS season tour has been unheard of for an American club, spanning the world with matches in El Salvador, Dallas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Saudi Arabia.
Inter Miami’s final preseason match of the world tour does come back stateside on Friday.
The match will be against Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood club from Argentina, in Miami.