Paris Olympics: Will Lionel Messi feature for world champions Argentina?

Argentina confirmed their place at the Games after defeating Brazil 1-0 on Sunday

By Web Desk
February 13, 2024
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal. - AFP

Argentina's under-23 manager Javier Mascherano has said that the door is open for Lionel Messi to feature at this year's Paris Olympics

Argentina confirmed their place at the Games after defeating Brazil 1-0 on Sunday in the final four of South America's qualifying tournament.

Shedding light on the possibility of 36-year-old Messi touching down in Paris, his former Argentina and Barcelona teammate Mascherano said: "Well, everyone knows my relationship with Leo, the friendship I have with him.

"I have always said that a player like Leo has opened doors and the invitation to accompany us then will obviously depend on him, his compromises and his time, but the invitation will clearly be there."

Inter Miami forward Messi, who led Argentina to World Cup win in Qatar in 2022, won gold with the national team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The men's football tournament at the Olympics takes place in July and August. Teams have the permission to include three overage players in their squads.

Chinese cities cancel Argentina matches after Messi snub

Two friendly matches have been cancelled by the Sports bosses in China which involved world champions Argentina.

The development comes after Messi failed to make an appearance for his club Inter Miami in a Hong Kong exhibition match recently.

Argentina had scheduled a tour of China from March 18 to 26, during which it was set to clash with Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing.

But last week a high-profile friendly between Inter Miami and a select XI in Hong Kong led to criticism and calls for refunds, after Messi did not take to the field, citing injury.

Some nationalist politicians and outlets have interpreted the no-show in the 4-1 Inter Miami win — and Messi's subsequent appearance at a similar match in Japan — as a snub to China, without offering evidence.

"Beijing does not plan, for the moment, to organise the match in which Lionel Messi was to participate," the Beijing Football Association, which oversees football in the capital, said in a press release Saturday.

The Hangzhou match had already been cancelled on Friday evening.

"Given the reasons that everyone knows, according to the competent authorities, the conditions for the event to take place are not met," said the Hangzhou Sports Bureau.