He had imagined the start of this business trip differently.
Lionel Messi arrived in Beijing on Saturday, the Argentine national team is preparing for their friendly against Australia (Thursday, 2 p.m.) in China. After landing, however, Messi has not yet been able to join his team directly. Because at the airport in the Chinese capital, the 35-year-old was initially detained for hours.
There were curious images that went through social media over the weekend: a visibly uneasy Messi surrounded by several police officers with no way out of the dense crowd at Beijing Airport. And there was a simple reason: Argentina’s exceptional player didn’t have a visa!
Arrived without a visa: Messi had to wait at the airport in Beijing
As reported by Chinese media, Messi was not aware that he needed a visa to enter China.
The world champion has had a Spanish passport since 2004, which he can use to travel to Taiwan, the small island nation about 180 kilometers east of China, without a visa.
Messi thought Taiwan belonged to China – and that’s why he could enter the country without a visa. As he was traveling on a private jet, this error was not noticed upon boarding prior to the start of his journey. At least the story had a happy ending for the future Inter Miami player.
After about two hours, Messi was allowed to leave the airport, the Argentine received a short-term visa.