Lionel Messi breaks silence over being benched in friendly match with Hong Kong


Inter Miami is in Tokyo for next leg of preseason tour, facing Japanese side Vissel Kobe on Wednesday

Inter Miami’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi takes part in a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo on February 6, 2024, a day before their friendly football match against J-League side Vissel Kobe. — AFP

Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi expressed regret over not being able to play in last Sunday’s friendly match in Hong Kong, which left fans outraged.

Messi, who plays for Inter Miami, stated that he was kept off the field due to an injury but wanted to play, CNN reported.

“I couldn’t be in the Hong Kong game and it’s a shame because I always want to participate, I want to be there, especially when it’s about these types of games that we travel so far and that people are so excited to see our games,” Messi told reporters.

Inter Miami’s preseason tour saw a sellout crowd of 40,000 attend a match in Hong Kong, but the event ended acrimoniously with fans booing, jeering, and calling for ticket refunds as the 36-year-old soccer legend remained on the bench.

Even the Hong Kong government said it was “disappointed” that the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t brought on during the match.

Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino confirmed that Messi and Luis Suárez remained on the bench upon medical staff’s advice.

Furthermore, Inter Miami is in Tokyo for the next leg of a preseason tour, facing Japanese side Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.

Messi said that he could see why some fans were disappointed that he had missed the game, but he also voiced the hope that Miami will visit Hong Kong once more in the future.

When asked if he would be playing in the match against Vissel Kobe, the forward said, “If I’m honest, I still don’t know if I can or not, but I feel much better and I really want to be able to do it.”



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