Lionel Messi expressed his disappointment on Tuesday about not being able to participate in a friendly match in Hong Kong.
Messi, who is a player for Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, did not participate in the match against a Hong Kong XI on Sunday, which has sparked anger among fans. He later mentioned that he was unable to participate in the game due to an injury but expressed his desire to be on the field.
“I regret not being able to participate in the Hong Kong game. It’s disappointing because I always strive to be present, especially for these types of matches where we travel long distances and fans are eagerly awaiting our games,” Messi expressed to reporters.
The 36-year-old’s immense popularity has caused fans to eagerly seek out opportunities to watch Inter Miami’s games during the team’s preseason tour.
A packed stadium of 40,000 witnessed the match in Hong Kong, but unfortunately, the atmosphere turned sour as fans expressed their disappointment by booing, jeering, and demanding ticket refunds while Messi stayed on the bench.
The Hong Kong government expressed their disappointment that the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was not brought on during the match.
Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino later clarified that both Messi and former Barça teammate Luis Suárez had stayed on the bench based on advice from medical staff.
Inter Miami has arrived in Tokyo for the next leg of their preseason tour and is set to take on Japanese side Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.
Messi mentioned that he understood the disappointment of fans regarding his absence from the match, but he remained optimistic about the possibility of Miami playing in Hong Kong in the future.
When questioned about his participation in the match against Vissel Kobe, the forward expressed uncertainty, stating, “To be frank, I’m still unsure if I’ll be able to play. However, I’m feeling significantly better, and I have a strong desire to be able to do so.”