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Messi's absence in friendly infuriates Hong Kong fans
  ·  2024-02-05  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency

Lionel Messi's failure to take to the field in a friendly between Inter Miami and a Hong Kong League XI on February 4 infuriated fans at the Hong Kong Stadium.

The stadium was fully packed with about 40,000 fans, many of whom were eager to watch Messi play, but both the Argentinian and teammate Luis Suarez remained on the bench throughout the game despite fans' repeated chants.

The star-studded Inter Miami only threw on Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets on the hour mark.

Many fans left early and some of them asked for refunds, and Inter Miami's co-owner David Beckham was booed when giving a speech after the game.

"The ticket cost me a lot but I felt heartbroken as Messi didn't even have a cameo appearance," a spectator said after the game.

"We understand there's a lot of disappointment from the fans about the absence of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. This has been a decision made together with our medical team. We have checked their physical situation and decided there was a risk if we sent them onto the pitch," Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino explained.

"We understand a lot of fans are very disappointed and we ask for their forgiveness. We wish we could have sent them at least for a while on the pitch to play, but the risk was so big, so we could not have risked it," he added.

With many high-profile names missing, the two sides were deadlocked 1-1 at halftime, before Inter Miami scored three more goals in the second half to seal the win.

Inter Miami continues its pre-season Asian tour by taking on Vissel Kobe in Japan on February 7. 


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