Following Lionel Messi’s absence from the match against Hong Kong XI, China has opted to cancel a planned friendly between Nigeria and Argentina. The decision stems from the disappointment over the Argentine superstar’s injury-related unavailability during the Herons’ visit to Hong Kong.
Messi, revered as a global football icon, was eagerly anticipated by fans in China for Inter Miami’s match against Hong Kong. However, his absence due to injury sparked frustration among fans. Messi later explained his situation, stating via USA Today:
“The truth is that it was bad luck that I couldn’t be present on the day of the match in Hong Kong. In the first game of the tour in Saudi Arabia, I felt discomfort in my adductor and that’s why I left the match…”
“Unfortunately, it is something that happens in football, in any game we may get injured… I hope we can return and we can play another game in Hong Kong and I can be present as I do whenever I can, but the truth is that it is a shame that I was not able to participate.”
Nevertheless, authorities in Hong Kong expressed disappointment over Messi’s absence, leading to political repercussions involving China. The Hangzhou government addressed the cancellation of Argentina’s match with Nigeria in March, stating via Mirror:
“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. Given 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.”