Football great Lionel Messi was arrested at the Beijing airport upon his arrival in China ahead of Argentina’s friendly match against Australia.
The World Cup winner is claimed to have been delayed at the airport by security because he had the wrong passport.
Messi traveled to China alongside international teammate Angel Di Maria, Rodrigo De Paul, and his bodyguard ahead of Argentina’s friendly on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
According to Chinese media reports, Messi traveled under a Spanish passport rather than his Argentine passport because he believed Taiwan was part of China.
According to the story, he asked the officials whether Taiwan is a part of China or not: ‘Is Taiwan not China?’
According to The Daily Mail, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was also stopped and delayed for two hours at the airport by Chinese border control before being released.
He was freed after notifying officials that he did not have his Argentine passport on him.
Lionel Messi and his teammate were also locked in their hotel room in Beijing as supporters gathered to meet them. Argentina’s training session on Sunday, June 11, 2022, was delayed for a few hours as a result of the action.
According to reports, a fan paid 10,000 yuan (£1120) for a room to view the football legend.
Argentina will face Australia in a friendly at Taiwan’s Worker’s Stadium Beijing.
Australia would like to exact revenge on Argentina after falling 2-1 to the world champions in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.