Messi to Join Argentina’s US Tour After Hong Kong Absence Controversy

Updated On Feb 23, 2024 by Landon Wheeler

Lionel Messi sitting on the bench during match against Hong Kong select XISummary:

  • Messi has been at the center of a controversy in China
  • Messi’s no-show made China cancel the upcoming matches scheduled in Hangzhou and Beijing.
  • AFA has confirmed Messi will represent two upcoming friendlies as a result

During a solid 4-1 win scored by his current team, Inter Miami, in a pre-season match against a Hong Kong select XI, eight-time Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi was, to his fans’ disappointment, a no-show.

Two Friendlies Announced

The superstar, who is idolized by Chinese fans of the sport, sparked a lot of controversy and led to China canceling the matches scheduled with Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing as a result of his absence on February 4 which was interpreted as a political rebuke.


After his schedule was abruptly cleared, the Argentina Football Association (AFA) announced the iconic player’s national team will engage in two upcoming friendlies with El Salvador in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field on March 22 and Nigeria at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on March 26.

This means the player will miss Inter Miami’s road game against the New York Red Bulls scheduled for March 23 at Red Bull Arena. However, he could have been playing more in the New York area later in the year.

The Crowd Chanted “Refund!”

Close to 40,000 soccer fans were eager to see the icon work his magic on the field after paying close to 1,000 Hong Kong dollars ($125).

The crowd was heard chanting “Refund!“, booing the player and even giving him the universal thumbs-down sign. The same reactions were directed to the club president and co-owner, David Beckham, right after the final whistle.

Messi explained that he was forced not to play because of an injury that he had suffered. The US is preparing to host the Copa America in June and July.

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