The arrival in Beijing of World Cup champions Argentina – particularly skipper, Lionel Messi – has sparked excitement among the Middle Kingdom’s football aficionados. So much so that yesterday, Sunday, June 11, the Argentinians were unable to leave Four Seasons Hotel Beijing for their scheduled training session.
Fans of Messi crowded in front of the entrance of the hotel, leading to their training session scheduled for 6pm that evening being delayed. The Argentina team were eventually pictured on a bus heading to the Olympic Center in Beijing.
Watch the video below:
In case you missed the news, World Cup winners Argentina will play against Australia in an international friendly match at Worker’s Stadium, Beijing this Thursday, June 15.
According to a post on a WeChat Official Account known as ‘2023 Soccer Championship’ (2023足球冠军行) – which appears to be the organizer of the Argentina-Australia match – the Australian team arrived in Beijing on the morning of June 10 and attended a training session on the afternoon of that day.
Being blocked inside the hotel due to enthusiastic fans is not the only problem that Messi and the Argentinian team have so far encountered on their trip to the Chinese capital. After arriving in Beijing via private airplane on June 10, it took Messi two hours to get through immigration.
As a dual national of both Argentina (his country of birth) and Spain (where he played for Barcelona for 21 years until 2021), Messi had arrived in China on his Spanish passport. However, he was supposed to have arrived on his Argentinian passport.
According to officials in Beijing, China has issued 10-year multi-entry tourism and business visas to Argentinian nationals since 2017, reports Heilongjiang Transport Radio & Television.
Presumably, it was Messi’s Argentinian passport which contained his visa for China.
Regardless of the difficulties (and the anxiety of fans who were waiting two hours at the airport for Messi to emerge) the football superstar was eventually issued with an “urgent visa.”
Let’s just hope they make it to the game on time this Thursday.
Finally, if you're looking for a last minute ticket to the game, you might want to talk to your bank manager about taking a loan. They don't come cheap...
READ MORE: ¥8,880 to See Argentina Play in Beijing?!
[Cover image via Weibo/@李桂江]