Messi breaks silence on Inter Miami no show

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • 6 Feb 2024 11:00 CST
  • 3 min read
Lionel Messi
© IMAGO

Lionel Messi was missing for Inter Miami's glamour friendly against a Hong Kong XI on Sunday, which drew the ire of fans and even the territory's government.

Messi spent the entire 90 minutes of the 4-1 win at the Hong Kong Stadium on the bench, despite reportedly being contractually obliged to make an appearance.

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The legend's former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba got a run-out, but the majority of the 40,000 fans in attendance were there to see the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner in action.

Kevin Yeung, Hong Kong's secretary for culture, sports and tourism, said that Messi's participation for at least 45 minutes was one of the key terms of their funding agreement - something that clearly wasn't met.

Messi injured

Now Messi himself has explained why.

"Unfortunately in football things can happen in any game, that we may have an injury. It happened to me," he said, as quoted by The Sun's Dan King. "I couldn't play in the Hong Kong match, and it was a shame because I always wanted to participate, I wanted to be there and even more so when it came to these matches.

"When we travelled so far and people were so excited to see our matches… I hope we can return and we play another game and I can play as I do whenever I can. But the truth is that it's a game that I wasn't able to participate."

Messi was recently joined in Miami by another former Barca teammate in Luis Suarez, who also sat on the bench in Hong Kong.

The David Beckham-backed franchise won their first ever trophy when Messi led them to the Leagues Cup in August, and they are among the favourites for next season's MLS Cup, despite not making the Playoffs last term.

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