The tickets for the game were sold out within a few hours. The fans wanted to see superstar Lionel Messi. But his coach left him on the bench – for a specific reason.
Frustrated football fans and the Hong Kong government have expressed their anger over the absence of superstar Lionel Messi from the away game between US club Inter Miami and Hong Kong XI.
Many fans were looking forward to the friendly match, and many tourists came to Hong Kong specifically for it, the government of the Chinese special administrative region announced after the final whistle.
“The government and all football fans are extremely disappointed that Messi was unable to play in the friendly match or personally give an explanation to the fans upon request,” it added.
Boos in the stadium
Messi’s club Inter Miami won the friendly match in Hong Kong in front of around 38,000 spectators against the team from the former British crown colony 4-1 (1-1). According to media reports, the 36-year-old Argentine is suffering from a muscle injury. In addition to the multiple world footballer, Argentine coach Gerardo Martino also left Uruguayan Luis Suárez (37), who used to strike for FC Barcelona, on the bench for the entire game. The coach explained the decision by wanting to protect both of them. He asked the disappointed fans for forgiveness.
Some fans said they had paid the equivalent of several hundred euros to see Messi, as the Hong Kong newspaper “South China Morning Post” reported. A supporter told the newspaper he had traveled from Melbourne, Australia, for the game. According to media reports, boos could be heard in the stadium. Some viewers therefore demanded their money back.
The club from the US Major League Soccer is preparing for the coming season with a friendly tour through various countries. Last Thursday, Miami lost 6-0 at Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. Messi played there for a few minutes towards the end. The team is next expected in Japan.
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