(Beijing) Chinese police said on Friday they arrested a fan who was then banned from the stadium for a year for entering the field during the match between Argentina and Australia on Thursday, and briefly hugged Lionel Messi.
“The Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau has already taken him into administrative detention according to law,” police said in a statement, identifying the 18-year-old by his surname, Di, and announcing that he had been banned from attending a match at the stadium for the next twelve months.
“After this event, Di also expressed his remorse and accepted the punishment handed down by public security,” they added, without saying more about how long he had been detained, or even whether he had been released.
The young man, dressed in an Argentine shirt, burst onto the pitch at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing during the second half and managed to give his idol a hug, before being chased off the pitch by the stewards, to the cheers of the public amused by this prank.
Messi is an idol in China, a football-loving country despite a struggling national team and championship.
More than 50,000 people braved the heat of Beijing on Thursday to see Messi and his team win 2-0 against Australia. Many fans wore replicas of the seven-time Ballon d’Or jersey, while others donned blue and white attire, matching their Argentina-themed makeup.
Hundreds of fans had already gathered in front of the luxury hotel in which the Argentines were staying to see their hero. One of them even told AFP that he hid in a service closet to approach Lionel Messi, before being arrested and then released by hotel security.