Due to the expensive cost of hosting the world champions, India declined the opportunity to host Lionel Messi’s Argentina for a friendly during this month’s international window.Given the fervent support the world champions received during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last month, Argentina was eager to play two friendly this month between June 12 and June 20 in south Asia.”The Argentina FA reached out to us for a friendly, but it was just not possible to arrange such a huge sum,” AIFF secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran said on Monday to TOI. “We require the support of a powerful partner in order for such a match to occur here.
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Why India cannot host Lionel Messi:
Argentina’s appearance fee is enormous, and we are constrained by our financial circumstances in the sport of football. Head of international relations Pablo Joaquin Diaz spoke on behalf of the Argentina FA in negotiations with AIFF. Argentina has become the most sought-after football team since winning the World Cup, with Messi’s squad commanding a fee of $4–$5 million (about Rs. 32–40 crore). Argentina’s original schedule called for them to play two friendlies in South Asia, one in Bangladesh and the other in India. However, none of those nations were able to raise the money on short notice, thus the world champions were forced to face Australia in Beijing on June 15 and Indonesia in Jakarta on June 19.
The world champions reportedly declined the opportunity to play friendlies in the United States during this window in order to pursue a strategy to maximise on their international popularity.
Argentina and India are ranked differently, therefore the AIFF would have had to find another team to play the world champions. India is rated 101 places behind Argentina, which is now recognised as the top country in the world.
Hugo Javier Gobbi, Argentina’s ambassador to India, sent Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan a jersey in the beginning of the year as a thank you for the state’s support of Argentina during the World Cup in Qatar. Argentina has played in India before; in 2011, Messi lead the squad to a 1-0 victory over Venezuela at the Salt Lake stadium, where 85,000 people watched before leaving ecstatic. India would have had the opportunity to witness Messi and Argentina win the global championship this time, but at a significant cost.
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