Lionel Messi was stopped at border control at the Beijing Airport while trying to use his Spanish passport rather than his Argentine one.
The 35-year-old arrived in China in a private jet last weekend, where he was joined by his ‘bodyguard’ and a number of friends, including Argentina star Angel di Maria.
Messi was travelling to join his international teammates ahead of a friendly against Australia on Thursday.
A video circulating on social media showed the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner surrounded by several police officers. Messi appeared to hold onto his passport while talking to them about the issue.
The local press in China reported that the problems arose because Messi used the wrong passport.
It is claimed that Messi believed he could travel to Taiwan on his Spanish passport, meaning that it was also valid for China.
He was quoted as saying: “Is Taiwan not China?”
Messi was delayed for two more hours before he was finally granted a visa and let through.