Lionel Messi said it was a “shame” he could not play in Inter Miami’s pre-season friendly in Hong Kong on Sunday, with his absence leaving angry fans demanding a refund.
Messi, who has been suffering with a hamstring injury, was left on the bench as his side beat a Hong Kong XI 4-1, much to the frustration of local fans who had turned up in numbers in expectation of seeing the eight-time Ballon D’Or winner in action.
As well as wanting their money back, spectators booed Inter co-owner David Beckham at a post-match speech, while the Hong Kong government later expressed its “deep disappointment” over Messi not playing and for organisers “failing to provide a detailed explanation promptly”.
Beckham’s MLS side have since moved on to Japan where they will play Vissel Kobe on Wednesday and Argentina superstar Messi trained on Tuesday.
The World Cup winner said in a press conference shown on Sky Sports: “Unfortunately in football things can happen in any game, that we may have an injury. It happened to me.
“I couldn’t play in the Hong Kong match, and it was a shame because I always wanted to participate, I wanted to be there and even more so when it came to these matches.
“When we travelled so far and people were so excited to see our matches. I hope we can return and we play another game and I can play as I do whenever I can. But the truth is that it is a game that I was not able to participate.”