Home GLOBAL NEWS India turn down rare opportunity to host Lionel Messi’s Argentina | Football News – Times of India

India turn down rare opportunity to host Lionel Messi’s Argentina | Football News – Times of India

India turn down rare opportunity to host Lionel Messi’s Argentina | Football News – Times of India


PANAJI: India have turned down the chance to welcome Lionel Messi’s Argentina for a friendly during this month’s international window due to the high cost involved in hosting the world champions.
Argentina had slots for two friendlies this month between June 12 and June 20 and were keen to play these games in south Asia, given the frenetic support the champions enjoyed during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last month.
“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 told TOI on Monday. “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.”


(Reuters Photo)
Pablo Joaquin Diaz, head of international relations, represented the Argentina FA in talks with AIFF. Since winning the World Cup, Argentina has become the most in-demand football team, with Messi’s team commanding a fee of $4-5 million (approximately Rs 32-40 crore).
Argentina’s initial plan was to play two friendlies in South Asia: one in India and another one in Bangladesh, but none of the countries could come up with the necessary funds at short notice, prompting the world champions to play Australia in Beijing on June 15 and Indonesia in Jakarta on June 19.
The world champions are understood to have passed on the chance to play friendlies in the United States during this window as it embarks on a plan to capitalise on its global appeal.
Given the disparity in rankings between Argentina and India, AIFF would have had to arrange another team to play the world champions. Argentina are ranked world No. 1 while India are ranked hundred places behind at 101.
“There would have been too much of a mismatch if India played (Argentina),” said Prabhakaran.


(AFP Photo)
Diaz, head of international relations at the Argentina FA, has continued talks with Prabhakaran and the two countries could, sooner or later, arrive at an understanding over a partnership.
“We are interested in having some sort of partnership with the Argentina FA. There is lot of interest from Argentina too, even from their clubs,” said Prabhakaran.
Early this year, Argentina’s Ambassador to India, Hugo Javier Gobbi, gifted Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan a national team jersey in appreciation for the state’s support for Argentina during the World Cup in Qatar.
Argentina have played in India before: in 2011 when Messi captained the team to a solitary goal win against Venezuela at the Salt Lake stadium where 85,000 spectators watched and then went home delirious with joy.
This time around, India would have seen Messi and Argentina as world champions for the first time, but at a huge cost.


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