Chinese football fans celebrate British rule over the Falklands in revenge against Messi

Many football fans who were at the Hong Kong Stadium demanded a refund (Image: GETTY)

The Falkland Islands have been dragged into a bizarre row between furious football fans and Argentina captain Lionel Messi.

At the beginning of this month, many sports fans bought tickets for a friendly match held at the Hong Kong Stadium between Inter Miami, co-owned by David Beckham, and Hong Kong XI, hoping to be able to see the Argentinian football star in action.

The match ended with a 4-1 win for the US team – and a major disappointment for Chinese fans who wanted to see the eight-time Ballon d’Or playing.

In fact, Messi remained on the bench throughout the entire game, citing injury. This prompted fans to voice their disappointment, demanding a refund, giving thumbs-down signs and drowning football legend Beckham with jeers as he tried to thank the crowds gathered at the stadium.

To add salt to the wound, Messi played for around 30 minutes in a friendly match held in Japan only a few days after his no-show in China.

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This brought some Chinese nationalist politicians and media outlets to claim, without offering any evidence, that Messi had snubbed their country.

For his part, the football player had described his absence from the pitch in Hong Kong as “bad luck” and said he was hoping to be able to return to China soon.

In the days that followed the match, its organiser Tatler Asia promised spectators a 50 percent refund and sports bosses in China cancelled the two friendly matches featuring Argentina that were set to take place in Beijing and Hangzhou in mid-March.

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Lionel Messi didn’t play during a recent match in Hong Kong (Image: GETTY)

The Beijing Football Association, which oversees football in the capital, said: “Beijing does not plan, for the moment, to organise the match in which Lionel Messi was to participate.”

Similarly, the Hangzhou Sports Bureau stated: “Given the reasons that everyone knows, according to the competent authorities, the conditions for the event to take place are not met.”

Several days after the perceived snub, the rage of football fans in China doesn’t appear to have been quashed.

Instead, many have taken to Chinese social media platform Weibo to hit out at Argentina’s sovereignty claims over the Falkland Islands – a British overseas territory.

Under a post by the Argentine embassy, one Weibo user wrote: “The Falkland Islands are an integral and inseparable part of the United Kingdom”.

Another internet user wrote on social media, according to Argentine news outlet Perfil: “The Falklands are part of the United Kingdom. They were before, they are now and, of course, they will always be in the future. Your country (Argentina) does not have the capacity to get them back either”.