Chinese rage when a superstar misses a Hong Kong match to play in Japan

After skipping a game in Hong Kong, Lionel Messi participated in a friendly against Japan, infuriating Chinese supporters and igniting a conspiracy theory. With the intention of “embarrassing” Hong Kong, the football player and his team Inter Miami were accused of having “political motives” by the state media outlet Global Times. With an injury, Messi stayed off the field for Sunday’s game in the Chinese special administrative area. Some supporters questioned if he had been hurt after Wednesday’s game in Tokyo. After Sunday’s game, over 38,000 spectators at Hong Kong Stadium jeered and demanded refunds when Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham spoke to the assembly. Up to HK$4,880 (£494; $624) had been paid by them to observe the 36-year-old Argentine superstar.

 

Messi was greeted like a rock hero in Beijing just a year ago when he represented his nation in a friendly match against Australia. Approximately 68,000 spectators spent up to $680 to witness him perform. In addition, he serves as a spokesperson for major Chinese companies like J&T Express, Huawei, Chery, Tencent, Mengniu, and Chishui River Wine. Hong Kong’s secretary for culture, sports, and tourism, Kevin Yeung, said that government representatives had been informed on multiple occasions that Messi would play. However, they were told with ten minutes remaining in the game that he would not be able to play due to a hamstring adductor injury.

John Lee, the chief executive of the territory, expressed his deep disappointment with Messi’s absence and demanded an explanation from the match’s organizers. Other politicians, such as lawmaker Regina Ip of Hong Kong, expressed their indignation as well, saying that the “deliberate and calculated snub” was the reason why “Hong Kong people hate Messi, Inter-Miami, and the black hand behind them”. “It is unacceptable to permit Messi to go back to Hong Kong. His hypocrisy and lies are abhorrent,” she continued.

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