What was supposed to be a party for thousands of football fans turned into frustration and revolt this Sunday (4). This because Lionel Messi did not take the field in the friendly between InterMiami It is Hong Kong, leaving the local fans disappointed. The Argentine star, who transferred to the American club in June 2023, after a spell at PSG, was injured and was unable to play, according to coach Tata Martino.
“We understand the fans’ disappointment and we ask for forgiveness. We would have liked to have played against them, even if for a short time, but the risk was too great,” said the coach. “Leo (Messi) has inflammation in the adductor as we saw in the images of his muscles. We expected an improvement, but the situation has existed for many days;”
The same happened with Uruguayan Luis Suárez, ex-Grêmio, another strong addition to the team. The absence of the two South Americans generated protests and boos from the fans, who filled the Hong Kong Stadium with around 40 thousand people. Some even paid up to HK$4,800 (approximately R$3,000) for a ticket to see the star up close, but had to be content with their presence on the bench.
Inter Miami, who are on a world tour to promote their brand and star cast, won the game 4-1, but were antagonized by the public, who shouted “refund, refund” and “we want Messi”. One of the club’s owners, former English player David Beckham, was also criticized and tried to apologize in a speech after the match.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it was “extremely disappointed” with the organization and that it would try to recover part of the US$2 million (R$10 million) invested in holding the event. The Argentine star, who received a warm welcome during training, did not comment on the episode.
Inter Miami continues its trip through Asia and faces Vissel Kobe, in Japan, next Wednesday. Afterwards, he returns to the United States, where he plays a friendly against Newell’s Old Boys, the club that revealed Messi, on February 15th.