China has called off a friendly match between Argentina and Nigeria, following Lionel Messi’s absence from a recent match in Hong Kong.
Messi was present but did not play in Inter Miami’s preseason win over a Hong Kong XI, drawing criticism from fans who had expected to see him on the field.
The government of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, expressed disappointment over Messi’s absence, despite his explanation of a minor injury.
This led to unrest among fans during the match, with chants calling for Messi to play.
Following the incident, Hangzhou sports authorities have announced the cancellation of Argentina’s upcoming friendly against Nigeria, scheduled for next month in the city.
Meanwhile, an Argentina official confirmed the cancellation to the Association Press, acknowledging the sensitivity of the matter.
It is now expected that Argentina will seek an alternative venue for the match against Nigeria.