The star, who transferred to the American club in June 2023 after a stint with PSG, was injured and couldn’t play, according to coach Tata Martino. “We would have liked to have played against them, even if only for a short time, but the risk was too great,” the coach said.
“Leo (Messi) has an inflammation in the groin as we saw in the images of his muscles. We were hoping for improvement, but the situation has been going on for many days,” he concluded.
The same happened with Uruguayan Luis Suárez, formerly of Grêmio, another heavyweight reinforcement for the team. Their absence generated protests and boos from the crowd, which filled Hong Kong Stadium with around 40,000 people.
Some even paid up to HK$ 4,800 (approximately R$ 3,000) for a ticket to see the star up close, but had to settle for seeing them on the bench. Inter Miami won the match 4-1 but was hostilely received by the audience, who chanted “refund, refund” and “we want Messi.”
One of the club’s owners, former English player David Beckham, also faced criticism and tried to apologize in a speech after the game. In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it was “extremely disappointed” with the organization and would try to recover part of the US$2 million (R$10 million) invested in the event.
The Argentine star, who received a warm reception during training, did not comment on the incident. Inter Miami continues its trip through Asia and will face Vissel Kobe in Japan next Wednesday.
Then, it will return to the United States, where it will play a friendly against Newell’s Old Boys, the club that Messi was discovered at, on February 15th. More:
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