Home Sport Hong Kong no-show was due to injury, not politics insists Lionel Messi

Hong Kong no-show was due to injury, not politics insists Lionel Messi

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In a video posted on China’s Weibo social media platform, Messi rejected chatter that his no-show was ‘for political reasons’ and said if this had been the case, ‘I would not have travelled’ to Hong Kong in the first place.

Lionel Messi has rejected chatter that his no-show in Hong Kong was ‘for political reasons’. Picture: REUTERS, Agustin Marcarian

Argentine football star Lionel Messi insisted Monday that his absence from a match in Hong Kong two weeks ago that drew the ire of spectators was not a snub but prompted by injury.

In a video posted on China’s Weibo social media platform, Messi rejected chatter that his no-show was “for political reasons” and said if this had been the case, “I would not have travelled” to Hong Kong in the first place.

“As everyone knows, I always want to play and be in every game,” he said.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner stayed on the bench throughout Inter Miami’s 4-1 win against a Hong Kong select XI on February 4.

His no-show drew boos and calls for refunds from thousands of fans who had shelled out large sums to see the World Cup-winning captain play in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Widely considered the best player of his generation, Messi is a highly marketable sportsman who people around the world will pay top dollar to see, even in the twilight of his trophy-laden career.

Some nationalist politicians and outlets interpreted Messi’s absence – and his subsequent appearance at a similar match in Japan – as a snub to China, without offering evidence.

Sports bosses in China subsequently cancelled two friendly matches featuring world champions Argentina.

Messi spoke in his video of a “very nice and very close” relationship with China, a country with which he said he had “done a lot of things” including matches and events.

His reason for not playing, the star striker said, was due to injury, specifically “inflammation of an adductor” muscle.

AFP

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