Messi defends injury absence in Hong Kong friendly after fan booing

By Majesty 3 Min Read
Messi defends injury absence

After Inter Miami was jeered by the local supporters for missing a preseason friendly in Hong Kong, Lionel Messi has justified his actions.

In front of over 40,000 spectators on Sunday, Inter defeated a League XI 4-1, with Argentina’s captain Messi sitting out the match due to a hamstring issue.

Messi was under contract to play for at least 45 minutes, according to the Hong Kong government.

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“I always want to play, especially in these games where we travel so far and people want to see our games,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, football is where this occurs. It can happen in any game that you are unable to play.

“I hope we can return and play a game in Hong Kong.”

Each ticket sold to the nearly full 38,323 spectators at Hong Kong Stadium cost more than HK$1,000 (£101).

“We want Messi” was chanted throughout the second half while the World Cup winner continued to be seated among the substitutes.

RELATED STORY: Fans upset as Lionel Messi, World Cup winner, doesn’t play in Hong Kong

Chants of “Refund” followed his failure to appear on the pitch, and as Inter co-owner David Beckham attempted to thank supporters during a speech following full time, jeers drowned him out.

The Major Sports Events Committee (MSEC) of the Hong Kong government expressed its “great disappointment” that Messi was unable to participate, given that Tatler Asia, the event’s organiser, had received funding totaling HK$16 million (£1.5 million).

Given that Messi did not play, Tatler Asia stated that it will not request the money.

Last Thursday, during Miami’s game against Saudi Arabia, Messi in as a substitute with six minutes remaining. However, a scan performed after the game revealed that Messi’s hamstring had swelled.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, 36, stated that his injury is getting better and that he might play on Wednesday in Tokyo against Vissel Kobe, the Japanese champions.

“I don’t know if I can or not, but I feel a lot better and really want to do it,” he stated.

We’re going to rehearse this afternoon and try again. In contrast to how I was feeling, I feel fantastic.”

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