IMAGE: The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has so far declined to comment on the news.(Getty Images: Daniel Jayo)
Brazil’s glamour friendly international against Argentina, scheduled for Melbourne next month, has been cancelled.
The June 11 match at the MCG had been planned as part of Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup later this year, but the event organisers and Brazilian federation have announced the game is off because South American champions Argentina won’t travel.
“Regrettably, event organisers have been informed [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,” organisers said in a statement.
The last time the South American giants played a ‘Superclasico’ at the MCG five years ago, more than 95,000 fans turned out to watch Argentinian legend Lionel Messi take a bow.
Victorian sports minster Martin Pakula said he was ‘pretty pissed off’ at the decision after almost 60,000 tickets had already been sold.
“I think they owe Australian football fans an explanation,” he said.
“I’d be pretty wary of a football association that just breaks contract.”
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) confirmed the news of the cancellation at a press conference on Wednesday morning, saying the decision had been down to the Argentine federation.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has made no comment on the issue.
The cancellation follows a ruling by FIFA on Monday that the two teams would still have to play their qualifying tie which was suspended in September shortly after kickoff and never completed because officials complained of Argentina players violating COVID-19 protocols.
FIFA wants the game played this September, a couple of months before the World Cup finals start in Qatar, but neither of the teams, who qualified automatically at the top of their South American group, have committed to playing it.
Juninho Paulista, co-ordinator of the Brazilian team, said at the news conference: “A statement came from the AFA, officially, and they informed us of this decision.
“We were prepared and with all the logistics ready for this game because we understood that we had to fulfil the contract”, Paulista added.
Organisers now says they are “working with the key stakeholders connected with 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 with details of the process to be provided shortly, the organisers added.