March 5, 2024

Inter Miami’s first-ever international tour turned sour in Hong Kong after the Argentine legend Lionel Messi was a no-show in a pre-season friendly match.

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Lionel Messi and Inter Miami received a buzzing welcome in Hong Kong for the much-hyped exhibition match on Sunday against Hong Kong XI. However, that soon turned out to be a disaster after the 2022 FIFA World Cup-winning captain was benched following a reported injury.

The 40,000 spectators at the sold-out stadium as well as the sponsors including the Hong Kong government were left angry and annoyed as Inter Miami, the Major League Soccer club decided to bench the player for their latest friendly.

Cheers to see Messi in action soon turned into jeers and boos after he was left seated, and didn’t make a substitute appearance in the game as his side sealed a 4-1 win against Hong Kong XI on Sunday.

Considered the greatest of all time (GOAT) of football, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner arrived in Hong Kong on Friday after playing a friendly against his arch-rival, Cristiano Ronaldo’s team Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia.

Throughout the second half of the game fans in Hong Kong were also heard chanting, “We want Messi!”

Angry fans not only booed and jeered at Lionel Messi but also Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham who was present during the game. Beckham’s post-game speech was also interrupted by chants of ticket refunds and thumbs-down gestures as spectators grew increasingly irate.

The Hong Kong government also lamented the MLS club’s decision to not have Messi play. The government also reportedly released a statement that the “organizer owes all football fans an explanation.” Messi not playing the match hugely disappointed the Government as well as the fans.

Other than Messi, Inter Miami’s Luis Suarez was also left on the bench.

Read also: MI Emirates clinches first ILT20 playoff spot with a dominant victory; Kusal Perera hailed as hero

Cover image source: Twitter