Lionel Messi detained for hours by police upon entering China

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.

Hank Peter

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