Sports

Fans insist on refund after Messi left out in Hong Kong

Featured Image: Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash

Featured Image: Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash

Hong Kong football fans were left furious during an Inter Miami pre-season match in the city where Lionel Messi did not appear on the pitch.

The Argentine World Cup winner had been left on the bench with a hamstring injury as his side beat a local League XI 4-1.

Chants of “refund” echoed around the sold-out 38,417 crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium during the match, and a speech by Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham was also drowned out by booing.

The Hong Kong Government has said that match organisers Tatler Asia must provide answers.

“Many Hong Kong fans looked forward to the match with enthusiasm, and a lot of tourists came to Hong Kong particularly for the match,” read a Hong Kong Governmental statement.

“The Government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed that Messi could neither play in the friendly match, nor explain to the fans in person upon request.

“The way that the organiser and Inter Miami CF handled the situation could not meet the expectations of the fans who showed strong support to Messi, especially those visitors who came all the way here for the match.

“The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau and the MSEC, will rely on the terms and conditions of the agreement in requiring the organiser to take responsibility, including a reduction of the amount of funding as a result of Messi being not able to play in the match.”

Tickets for the match had sold out within an hour of going on sale in December.

Inter Miami coach Tata Martino defended the decision not to play Messi as well as new signing Luis Suárez, who played alongside the Argentine in Barcelona, saying that they could not be risked.

Each spectator had paid more than HKD 1,000 (£101/$127/€118) for a ticket, but the organiser insisted that it did not have any knowledge of Messi or Suárez’s absence before the match.