Lionel Messi Clarifies Absence from Hong Kong Friendly, Denies Political Motivation

2024-02-22 01:24:39.513000

The controversy surrounding football superstar Lionel Messi's absence from a recent friendly match in Hong Kong has taken a new turn. Messi has released a video on social media to explain his absence, stating that there was no political reason behind his decision [ce8110e3]. Messi disappointed fans and the city government in Hong Kong after being left on the bench in a match between Inter Miami and a local team on February 4. This led to speculation that his absence was a political snub to China. However, Messi clarified in the video that his no-show was due to an injury, specifically 'inflammation of an adductor' muscle. He emphasized that he always wants to play and be in every game, and expressed his close relationship with China and his love for his fans there. Fans on China's Weibo social media platform reacted with both support and criticism towards Messi's explanation [33700a14].

The controversy began when Messi was scheduled to play in Hong Kong but was later seen playing a sand football match in Japan. China's state-run Global Times claimed that Messi's actions were politically motivated, but Messi denied this in his video [ce8110e3]. The incident has caused political and diplomatic repercussions, resulting in the cancellation of Messi's planned visit to China with the Argentine national team in March. The Beijing Football Association stated that the city has no plans to host games featuring Messi. The sports bureau in Hangzhou also canceled a friendly match between Nigeria and Messi-led Argentina, and it is unclear if Messi's video will help him return to the Chinese market [ce8110e3].

The organizer of the Hong Kong match, Tatler Asia, has apologized and offered a 50% refund to ticket holders. The game tickets cost up to HK$4,880 ($624) each [ce8110e3]. Former Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah warns that if incidents like this are constantly elevated to the political level, it will have a negative impact on Hong Kong's international reputation. He questions why good things always turn into bad things and why this has become a common occurrence in recent years [33700a14]. This controversy highlights the potential risks and challenges of relying heavily on celebrity endorsements and the fan economy for Hong Kong's international image and reputation [33700a14].

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