In March, Lionel Messi and Inter Miami faced backlash in China after Messi missed a game against Hong Kong XI. The incident led to the cancellation of planned Argentina friendlies in China, with the Hangzhou sports authorities canceling the Argentina-Nigeria friendly and the Beijing Football Association announcing that the second game against Ivory Coast would not be played.
Fans and government officials were outraged by Messi’s absence from the game, causing uproar on social media and in local media outlets. Inter Miami and event organizers released statements apologizing for Messi’s absence, but it was still not enough to quell the anger of Chinese fans.
Despite the controversy surrounding Messi’s absence, there is still potential for the games against Nigeria and Ivory Coast to be played during the March international break. The Argentinian Football Association will look into different locations to hold the friendlies, but it remains uncertain whether they will go ahead as planned. In any case, Messi finished Inter Miami’s Asian tour by playing 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe on Wednesday in Tokyo.