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Fans in Hong Kong booed Inter Miami as Lionel Messi didn’t make an appearance during a pre-season friendly.
Inter Miami beat a Hong Kong XI 4-1 in front of 38,323 people at Hong Kong Stadium.
Hong Kong Fans Call For “Refund”
Fans chanted “refund” during the game after the Hong Kong government had originally stated that Messi was contracted to play at least half of the game.
Kevin Yeung, Hong Kong’s secretary for culture, sports and tourism said: “We immediately requested them to explore other remedies, such as Messi appearing on the field to interact with his fans and receiving the trophy. Unfortunately, as you all see, this did not work out.”
Messi was unable to play the match due to an abductor injury, alongside his teammate and former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, who missed the game due to a knee injury.
After the game, Martino said: “If there was a way, they could have played even a little while we would have done it, but there was too much risk involved.”
The government’s major sports events committee (MSEC) said: “Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organisers' arrangement. The organiser owes all football fans an explanation.”
The MSEC announced that they had given the match organisers, Tatler Asia, 15 million Hong Kong dollars (£1.5 million) for the event and one million Hong Kong dollars for the venue.
Spectators paid 1,000 Hong Kong dollars (£101) for a ticket. Michel Lamuniere, chairman and CEO of Tatler Asia, said: “Tatler Asia deeply regrets the disappointing ending to what was an exciting occasion.
“[Tatler Asia] has decided to officially withdraw its application for… the 16 million Hong Kong dollars government grant.”
In the second half, fans began chanting “we want Messi”. David Beckham made a speech to fans at the end of the game to thank them for their support, however, he was booed by those inside the ground.
The organisers said: “”Despite some news reports, Tatler did not have any information about the non-participation of Messi or Suarez prior to kick-off.
“Messi and Suarez were deemed unfit to play by their team's medical department, to everyone's, including ours, disappointment.”