AIFF reveals Lionel Messi could have come to India this summer

Lionel Messi

India has declined the opportunity to host Lionel Messi and Argentina for a friendly match during the current international window due to the high expenses associated with hosting the reigning world champions.

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Argentina had plans to play two friendly matches in South Asia, particularly in India and Bangladesh, taking into account the enthusiastic support they received during the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

However, both countries were unable to provide the necessary funds on short notice. As a result, Argentina decided to play matches against Australia in Beijing on June 15 and Indonesia in Jakarta on June 19.

The United States was also considered as a potential venue, but the world champions opted to focus on maximizing their global appeal instead. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) would have needed to arrange an alternative opponent for Argentina due to the significant difference in rankings, with Argentina being ranked number one in the world and India trailing far behind at 101.

Discussions between Diaz, the head of international relations at the Argentina FA, and Prabhakaran, a representative from AIFF, are ongoing, and it is possible that the two countries may establish a partnership in the future.

In 2011, Argentina had previously played in India, with Lionel Messi leading the team to a 1-0 victory against Venezuela in front of 85,000 ecstatic spectators at the Salt Lake Stadium.

This time, India would have witnessed Lionel Messi and Argentina as reigning world champions, but the associated costs proved to be a major obstacle.

“The Argentina FA reached out to us for a friendly, but it was just not possible to arrange such a huge sum. For such a match to happen here, we need the backing of a strong partner. The kind of money that Argentina command (as appearance fee) is huge and we have limitations in terms of our economic situation in football.” – AIFF Secretary said.