The sports minister of Australia’s state of Victoria reacted with anger on Thursday after Lionel Messi’s Argentina pulled out of a highly anticipated June 11 friendly against rivals Brazil in Melbourne.
The event’s promoter said it had been informed that Argentina were not prepared to travel to Australia for the match “contrary to their prior agreement and commitment to do so”.
Ticket holders for the clash at Melbourne Cricket Ground, which would have come just five months before the World Cup, will be eligible for refunds, the promoter said.
“We are pretty disappointed and I think it’s fair to say pretty pissed off,” Victoria’s sports minister Martin Pakula said.
“I think they owe Australian football fans an explanation because they have not provided an acceptable explanation to the promoter,” he added.
“It’s a game that would have been extremely popular here in Melbourne.”
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria state.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil team coordinator Juninho Paulista said the cancellation of the friendly “greatly affects our preparation” for the World Cup.
Brazil want to find a replacement game during the June window, the penultimate one authorised by FIFA before the World Cup starts on November 21.