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MCG’s Superclasico cancelled as Argentina pulls out

Next month’s planned Superclasico football match between Brazil and Argentina at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been cancelled.

The match had been due to take place on June 11 but the MCG has confirmed that the fixture will not go ahead as Argentina is no longer prepared to travel to Australia for the match.

Event organisers are now working with key stakeholders connected to the match to review all options for the fixture, with further updates to be provided as quickly as possible. Ticket holders will be eligible for refunds.

Speaking last month, Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, said the match would reinforce Melbourne’s position as “one of the world’s great sporting cities”.

Following the cancellation of the game, Pakula said he was “pretty p***** off”, with around 60,000 tickets having already been sold. The Argentine Football Association has yet to comment on the matter.

“I think they owe Australian football fans an explanation because they haven’t provided an acceptable explanation to the promoter,” Pakula said, according to The Guardian. “I know Brazil is very upset. It’s really impacting their preparation for the World Cup.

“It’s a game that would have been extremely popular here in Melbourne. I welcome the comments by the promoter overnight that all the fans will receive a full refund.”

Brazil and Argentina last met at the MCG in 2017 in a match that attracted 95,569 fans. It marked the largest crowd for a football match at the stadium and next month’s fixture was due to serve as a warm-up for both teams ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year.

The Superclasico was created in 2011 as a two-game series between Brazil and Argentina before becoming a one-off match at a neutral venue from 2014. The most recent edition took place at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2019.

Earlier this week, FIFA ruled that Argentina and Brazil must replay a Qatar 2022 qualifier which was suspended in September amid complaints that Argentina players had violated COVID-19 protocols.

Both teams have qualified for the World Cup and neither side has committed to playing the qualifier. FIFA wants the match to take place in September, just two months before the start of the World Cup.

Image: Rodger Wang on Unsplash