At his club’s friendly match in Hong Kong, Lionel Messi sits on the bench for 90 minutes – and disappoints fans and the government. Now the financing is also being put to the test.
Hong Kong Sports Minister Kevin Yeung has demanded an explanation for Lionel Messi’s benching during the friendly match between Inter Miami and Hong Kong XI Lu.
Yeung explained during a press conference that Messi was actually contractually obliged to play at least 45 minutes unless there were safety or health concerns.
Messi did not play in the friendly match on Sunday in Hong Kong, to the displeasure of the 38,000 spectators. According to media reports, the 36-year-old Argentine was missing from his team’s 4-1 win due to a muscle injury. During the game, government officials were repeatedly assured that Messi would be used, said Yeung. When asked, the injury was reported.
Big disappointment in Hong Kong
“We immediately asked them to look for other solutions, such as having Messi appear on the pitch to talk to fans and accept a trophy,” Yeung said. That didn’t work. The government supported the event with 16 million Hong Kong dollars (around 1.9 million euros).
The government expressed disappointment in two statements on Sunday and said it may cut funding. Yeung said that this would be decided at a later date. The organizer declared his “extreme disappointment at the non-participation of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez” and emphasized that he had no information about it.
Argentine coach Gerardo Martino said he wanted to rest Messi and Suárez. He asked the disappointed fans for forgiveness. The club from the American Major League Soccer is currently preparing for the coming season with a friendly tour through various countries.
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