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Argentina’s March friendlies moved to United States after Lionel Messi Hong Kong dispute

Argentina will play two friendlies in the United States in March after their planned games in China were cancelled due to Lionel Messi’s absence in Hong Kong.

The 2022 World Cup winners will play El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on March 22, before facing Nigeria at the LA Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on March 26.

El Salvador replace the Ivory Coast, who Argentina was originally scheduled to play in one of the two friendlies.

The two friendlies against Nigeria and Ivory Coast in China were cancelled this month after Messi failed to appear in an Inter Miami friendly against the Hong Kong XI.

The Argentina Football Association (AFA) had been in discussions over where to host the two friendlies, with other destinations in Asia and the United States under consideration.

Messi was ruled out of the match in Hong Kong with an adductor injury, before playing 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo three days later, which was deemed a “deliberate and calculated snub” by the Hong Kong government.

The organisers of the match in Hong Kong, Tatler Asia, said that the 40,000 fans who attended the Inter Miami match last Sunday would receive a 50 per cent refund.

The Athletic reported in January that Argentina is also set to play two international friendlies in the U.S. ahead of this summer’s Copa America.

The defending Copa America and World Cup champions will visit Chicago’s Soldier Field and FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland before their tournament opener on June 20 in Atlanta. Sources could not immediately confirm the dates of both friendlies, but it’s likely that Argentina will schedule those matches during the June 3-11 FIFA window.

GO DEEPER

Lionel Messi no-show prompts boos in Hong Kong, but Inter Miami focus on bigger picture

(Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)


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