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Lionel Messi sets the record straight after Hong Kong backlash 

The Argentinian football superstar took to Chinese social media to reiterate that his absence during the Hong Kong match was not due to politics, as some reports have suggested.

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Renowned Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi uploaded a two-minute video on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, yesterday to explain his absence from the pitch during the Hong Kong leg of the Inter Miami Preseason Tour 2024, which was scheduled on 4 February.  

Touted by the organiser Tatler Asia as “the most highly anticipated event of the year,” the 90-minute game quickly took a turn for the worse, with fans jeering and demanding refunds when they realised that the football legend would not be playing. 

In the video, Messi said that he wanted to give “the true version” of events, hitting back on reports that his absence was politically motivated

The football player said, “Had that [political motivation] been the case, I wouldn’t have even travelled to Japan or visited China as many times as I have.”

Lionel Messi attributed his no-show during the match between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong XI team to an inflamed adductor, which he claims caused discomfort and prevented him from playing in Hong Kong, even though the day before the scheduled game, he “tried to train and made an effort for all those who’d come to watch [the] training.”

He added that in the days that followed, his health recovered and he needed to physically prepare for the upcoming season, which was why he decided to play “for a bit in Japan.” 

[See more: Here’s what you need to know about Liionel Messi’s failure to play in Hong Kong]

In his message, the Argentinian stressed that he has had “a very close and special relationship with China,” and that he had participated in many “interviews, games and events” in the country on behalf of FC Barcelona and the Argentinian national team in the past. 

Towards the end of the video, Messi added that he had already set the record straight earlier during a press conference in Tokyo on 6 February, but felt that it was pertinent for him to reiterate the same points, especially after the publication of “false stories.”

The video is currently one of the most popular search queries on Weibo, amassing 53,000 comments and 556,000 likes. 

Responses to the video in the comment section were mixed, with some fans voicing their support for the football player. Others have dismissed the message as a ploy to placate the Chinese market, following Hangzhou and Beijing’s cancellation of two friendly matches involving the Argentinian in the wake of the Hong Kong controversy. 

As a result of the backlash from the game, Tatler Asia has withdrawn its application for government funding and offered audience members a 50% refund

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