Lionel Messi is used to applause, but in Hong Kong he had to put up with boos. The disappointed fans didn’t get to see the Miami player on the pitch
The impatience grew among the spectators in Hong Kong. After all, they had paid up to 115 euros for a ticket to see Lionel Messi play against a local team. But the superstar remained on the bench until the bitter end. Boos and whistles in the 36-year-old’s direction were the result. A PR disaster for Inter Miami.
For days, there had been a veritable Messi hype in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands turned up for Inter training on Saturday and the team hotel was virtually besieged. Tickets sold out completely within an hour in December
As a result, almost 40,000 spectators came to the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday. Messi was not in the starting eleven, but was at least in the squad. However, coach Gerardo Martino did not substitute him against the Hong Kong Allstars with Austrian Jakob Jantscher. Ten minutes before the end, the fans lost patience and the bitter disappointment turned into anger. The fans’ chants of “We want Messi” went unanswered
Beckham is also booed – Martino says sorry
Miami’s co-owner David Beckham tried in vain after the game to say thank you for the “unbelievable support” – he was booed off, as were Messi, who is apparently suffering from a thigh injury, and Uruguayan Luis Suarez (knee injury), who was also absent from the pitch.
“We understand the fans’ disappointment,” said Inter coach Gerardo Martino later, “we apologize. We would have liked to send Leo and Luis onto the pitch, at least briefly, but the risk was too high.” Even without the Argentinian world champion, Miami won the game 4:1.
Messi last played a few minutes in Saudi Arabia on a five-game tour before the start of the MLS season – his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo missed the clash with Al-Nassr due to injury.