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Inter Miami Apologizes for Messi’s Hong Kong Absence
- Updated: February 9, 2024
Inter Miami issued an apology for Lionel Messi’s absence from an exhibition match in Hong Kong, a decision that disappointed fans and organizers alike. Despite their best intentions, the MLS club stated that it was necessary for Messi and his teammate Luis Suárez to sit out the game, as they were being assessed by medical staff who deemed it too risky for them to play.
The absence of Argentine superstar Messi, an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, was felt keenly by the 40,000 fans gathered at Hong Kong Stadium. Inter Miami acknowledged the frustration and disappointment caused by the late decision, expressing regret for the inconvenience caused to both supporters and the event promoter, Tatler Asia. The club emphasized that player safety must always take precedence over other considerations.
Miami explained that they aimed to make a game-time decision regarding Messi and Suárez to allow for the possibility of their participation. However, despite this intention, the medical assessment ultimately led to their exclusion from the match in Hong Kong.
Three days later, Messi did make an appearance in a friendly against J-League side Vissel Kobe in Tokyo, coming on as a substitute in the 60th minute. However, attendance at the Japan National Stadium was notably lower, with significant sections of seating left unoccupied.
The frustration among fans in Hong Kong was palpable, with chants for refunds echoing through the stadium. The Hong Kong government also expressed displeasure, suggesting that match organizers might face consequences such as a reduction in funding. The event had received significant financial support, with the Major Sports Events Committee granting HK$15 million ($1.92 million) for the event and an additional HK$1 million grant for the venue.
Despite the controversy, Inter Miami expressed a willingness to return to Hong Kong in the future, provided that fans are open to hosting the club again. The club reiterated that injuries are an unfortunate reality in football and emphasized that such occurrences are no one’s fault but are simply a part of the sport. They called attention to the negativity surrounding the incident and urged stakeholders to understand the unpredictable nature of sports injuries.
In summary, Inter Miami apologized for Messi’s absence from the Hong Kong match, citing the necessity of prioritizing player safety. They expressed regret for the disappointment caused to fans and organizers and highlighted the financial support provided for the event. Despite the controversy, the club remained open to future opportunities in Hong Kong and emphasized the unpredictable nature of sports injuries.
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By- Sahiba Suri