MCG Superclasico clash off as Argentina refuse to travel

The “Superclasico” clash between South American soccer giants Brazil and Argentina will not take place at the MCG next month after the Argentinian Football Association refused to travel to Australia for the game.

The cancellation – which had been rumoured on Tuesday but denied by promoters TEG Sport – was eventually confirmed in a statement issued close to midnight on Tuesday by PR company Bursty.

Lionel Messi and Argentina will not be coming back to the MCG.Credit:Paul Rovere

The Victorian government had helped underwrite the game, scheduled for Saturday June 11, and organisers had predicted a bumper crowd to see the likes of Lionel Messi for the Albicelestes, and Brazilian superstar Neymar.

“Regrettably, this evening event organisers have been informed by Pitch, the Superclasico June 11 2022 match agent, that contrary to their prior agreement and commitment to do so, Argentina are no longer prepared to travel to Australia for the match against Brazil.

“In response, event organisers are now working with the key stakeholders connected to the match to review all options for the fixture and will provide further updates as quickly as possible.

“Ticket holders will be eligible for refunds and details on the refund process will be provided shortly,” the statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday, TEG Sport boss Geoff Jones told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that the game would go ahead as scheduled.

“The bottom line is that there is absolutely no issue with the game and they are proceeding,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are contracted and the game is proceeding, and we look forward to hosting both federations in June in Melbourne.

“We hope that they will bring their big-name payers, and we hope that in a World Cup year and in a FIFA international break that would be the case, but we don’t guarantee any players. Hopefully they will bring their best squads and we trust that they will.”

Relationships between the two countries are always fraught as they have dominated the South American and global game at various times over the past century.

Nine reported last month that questions over the status and certainty of the fixture were beginning to surface after it emerged the Argentina Football Association was preparing to launch a legal challenge against FIFA’s ruling that they replay a World Cup qualifier against Brazil after the original had been sensationally abandoned last year.

Originally the game in Melbourne had been designated as a World Cup qualifier, but its status was changed when FIFA mandated the two nations play a rescheduled match in Brazil on September 22, just days after the Superclasico at the MCG was announced.

The Argentine association was unhappy with that decision and this masthead reported in late April that it planned to challenge the directive to replay the original qualifier, which had been postponed on September 5 2021 due to a dispute over COVID-19 restrictions.

In unprecedented scenes during that game, Brazilian government health officials walked on to the pitch in Sao Paulo after kick-off with the score at 0-0 and demanded that the match be called off because four Argentinian players had arrived from England and were allegedly in breach of Brazil’s COVID-19 entry requirements.

The need for a further fixture to determine World Cup qualification is moot. Both have already qualified for Qatar 2022, with Brazil topping the group and Argentina unable to be caught in second place.

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