Lionel Messi did not play in the friendly between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong National Team and aroused anger from the Asian fans who booed him when the Argentine idol walked through the stadium.
The MLS team won 4-1 and none of its stars started. Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets entered with half an hour left before the curtain went down, while Luis Suárez, like Messi, did not play.
Read also: Lionel Messi and the “butterfly effect”: how the 2001 crisis changed the history of football forever
This situation also angered the Government of that country, which issued a statement in which it expressed being “extremely disappointed.” In addition, it announced measures to recover part of the HK$16 million (US$2.05 million) awarded to the event organizer.
(Twitter forwarded online)
“Everyone is here to see Messi, so I feel a little cheated,” Jonathan Wong, one of the more than 38,000 fans who filled the stadium wearing pink Miami jerseys and Argentina albiceleste jerseys, told AFPTV.
It was not until the end of the match that coach Gerardo Martino explained that Messi and Luis Suárez did not play because they had injuries from the tour matches previously played in Saudi Arabia. “We understand the disappointment that people have, we apologize,” justified the Argentine coach.
Since the announcement of the meeting, this semi-autonomous Chinese city surrendered to Messimania. Tickets for the match were sold out in less than an hour despite a price of between HK$880 and HK$4,800 (US$112.5 and 614).
Inter Miami played a friendly against a team from that country and the Argentine star was not part due to an injury. (Twitter forwarded online)
Pink posters, the color of Inter Miami, proliferated throughout the city, promoting the match with images of Messi, Suárez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. None of them were starters.
Almost 40,000 people attended a training session open to the public on Saturday, also paid, in which the Argentine stood on the sidelines stretching with Suárez.
“I have been a fan of Messi since I was little and he hurt me a lot tonight. “I was very excited to see him play today, it was going to be my first time, so I'm quite devastated,” said a fan.