Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi has expressed regret over his inability to play in a friendly match in Hong Kong. Messi, who currently plays for Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, was unable to participate in the match against a Hong Kong XI due to an injury, despite his desire to play.
In a statement to reporters, Messi expressed disappointment at missing the match, especially given the excitement surrounding such games and the far-reaching travel involved. He emphasized his desire to always be on the pitch, particularly for matches that generate significant anticipation among fans.
Messi’s immense popularity drew a sellout crowd of 40,000 to the match in Hong Kong. However, tensions arose when fans expressed their frustration through booing, jeering, and calls for ticket refunds as Messi remained on the bench throughout the game.
Even the Hong Kong government expressed disappointment over Messi’s absence from the match, highlighting the significant impact his presence would have had on the event.
Inter Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino later clarified that Messi, along with former Barcelona teammate Luis Suárez, remained on the bench based on medical advice from the team’s staff.
Following the Hong Kong match, Inter Miami traveled to Tokyo for the next leg of their preseason tour, where they are scheduled to face Japanese side Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.
While acknowledging the disappointment of fans, Messi expressed hope that Inter Miami could return to Hong Kong for future matches. Regarding his own fitness, Messi stated that he was feeling better but was unsure if he would be able to participate in the upcoming match against Vissel Kobe. Nonetheless, he expressed a strong desire to play if his condition allowed.