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 by Pitch, the Superclasico June 11 2022 match agent, 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 Argentina legend Lionel Messi take a bow.
The Brazilian federation 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 federation has made no comment on the issue.
Local 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 told the ABC. “I’d be pretty wary of a football association that just breaks contract.”
The cancellation follows a ruling by FIFA on Monday that the two teams would still have to play their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match 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 both teams, who qualified automatically at the top of their South American group, haven’t committed to playing it.
Juninho Paulista, coordinator of the Brazilian team, said at the news conference: “A statement came from the AFA [the Argentine federation], 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,” he 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 would be eligible for refunds with details of the process to be provided shortly, the organisers added.
Coach Tite also announced his squad for the friendlies and brought striker Gabriel Jesus back. The Manchester City striker, who was a starter for the Selecao in the last World Cup, is fighting for a place in Qatar.
The only new name on the list was of 21-year-old Danilo, a Palmeiras defensive midfielder.