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Fans demand refund after Lionel Messi no-show

The Hong Kong government has expressed ‘extreme’ disappointment at Messi’s non-appearance

Harry Latham-Coyle
Monday 05 February 2024 09:45 GMT
Lionel Messi (second from right) did not make a planned appearance in an Inter Miami preseason friendly
Lionel Messi (second from right) did not make a planned appearance in an Inter Miami preseason friendly (Getty Images)

The government of Hong Kong have said that they are “extremely disappointed” after Lionel Messi failed to make a planned appearance in an Inter Miami preseason friendly.

The MLS side beat a local composite side 4-1 in the city state, but Messi did not feature, spending the entirety of the game in a tracksuit on the bench due to a hamstring injury.

Fans in the ground chanted “we want Messi” and called for a refund during the encounter, which was watched by a sellout crowd of around 38,000. Inter Miami owner David Beckham was also booed during a speech.

Luis Suarez was also not used from the bench by Inter boss Tata Martino, who suggested that the former Barcelona pair could not be risked.

“We understand the disappointment of the fans for the absence of Leo [Messi] and Luis Suarez,” Martino said. “We understand a lot of fans are very disappointed and we ask for their forgiveness. We wish we could have sent Leo and Luis on for at least a while but the risk was too big.”

The match was organised by Tatler Asia, and Hong Kong have demanded an explanation for Messi’s no-show.

“Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organisers’ arrangement,” said government officials in a statement. “The organisers owe all football fans an explanation.”

Those in attendance had paid more than 1,000 Hong Kong dollars (£101) for a ticket to the game. Messi had featured in an open training session the day prior at Hong Kong Stadium.

“Despite some news reports, Tatler did not have any information about the non-participation of Messi or Suarez prior to kick-off,” organisers said.

“Messi and Suarez were deemed unfit to play by their team’s medical department, to everyone’s, including our, disappointment.”

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