Hong Kong government calls out Inter Miami over Lionel Messi missing friendly

Lionel Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or after World Cup glory with Argentina

The Hong Kong government was left furious and disappointed after Lionel Messi was left on the bench in Inter Miami’s friendly against the Hong Kong XI. The MLS side continued their pre-season in the Far East just three days after they were convincingly beaten 6-0 by Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.

Excited fans flocked to the Hong Kong Stadium to watch the World Cup winner grace the crowd with his presence on the field. But the thousands in attendance were left heartbroken when the 36-year-old not only didn’t start the game but failed to even appear as a substitute.

As a result, Hong Kong’s government says it will seek an explanation from the game’s organisers for Messi’s absence. “Regarding Messi not playing the match day, the Government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organizer’s arrangement,” their statement read. “The organizer owes all football fans an explanation.

“The Major Sports Events Committee will take follow-up action with the organizer according to the terms and conditions, which includes reducing the amount of funding as a result of Messi not playing the match.”

The Hong Kong government aren’t happy about Lionel Messi not playing in Inter Miami’s pre-season friendly (Image: Getty)

It later emerged Messi is nursing an injury, having suffered a hamstring strain prior to the Al-Nassr game. Regardless, fans were left devastated and the government statement suggested action could well be taken against the team.

Even Inter Miami owner David Beckham, could not escape the wrath of the fans as they booed the former England captain and chanted ‘refund’ when he addressed them.

“On behalf of everybody involved in Inter Miami, our club, I would like to say thank you very much for the incredible welcome,” he said on the pitch after the game. “We have always loved… I have always loved Hong Kong. Thank you very much for the incredible welcome. And we look forward to coming back one day to entertain you even more.

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The Argentine played no part in his team’s 4-1 win over the Hong Kong XI (Image: Getty)

“Thank you to the media. Thank you for everyone in the stadium that has turned up tonight and been here for us. It means a lot because to see these great players play inspires a lot of young children in this country and around the world. I hope one day we will be back to entertain you. Hong Kong, thank you very much. I will see you soon. Thank you.”

Inter Miami did not require the services of Messi as his team comfortably won the game 4-1. Goals from Robert Taylor, Lawson Sunderland, Leonardo Campana and Ryan Sailor gave the club a much-needed win. In the process, Miami ended their 12-game losing streak.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1862944/Hong-Kong-government-Inter-Miami-Lionel-Messi-football