Superstar Lionel Messi won’t be in Jakarta for the highly anticipated friendly between Indonesia and Argentina, and the local fans are not happy.
Argentine media confirmed that Messi would play the exhibition match with Australia in China on Thursday. After that, the 35-year-old will not go to Indonesia for the next game. Instead, he will go on a vacation in Europe and return to his hometown Rosario before joining his new club Inter Miami in the United States.
“Star players like Messi will play the match against Australia because this is a strong opponent, while reserve and young players will be used in the Indonesia game,” newspaper Diario Ole reported.
Another outlet Vermouth Deportivo wrote: “Argentina will play Australia first and they will come to Indonesia without Messi. He deserves a vacation after a tiring season.”
The news upset Indonesian fans, who have been expecting to watch Messi play in Jakarta. Many were frustrated and asked for a refund of their tickets.
“Of course, Messi won’t come. What were we thinking? He doesn’t want to play against a small team [like Indonesia]. What a shame,” user Zaq Huzaifah commented on social media.
Not just the fans, the players were also disappointed. Wing-back Asnawi Mangkualam said he was upset when he heard that Messi would not play. The match has now become much less attractive without the many famous players of Argentina.
Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) president Erick Thohir said the tickets were non-refundable. PSSI said from the start that this game was between Argentina and Indonesia, not Messi and Indonesia, he added.
It was reported that Indonesia had to spend $5 million to invite Argentina for the friendly match.