Fans in Hong Kong were left in a state of meltdown as Inter Miami decided to rest Lionel Messi for their latest friendly. The Argentine superstar remained on the bench and didn’t make a substitute appearance as Inter Miami cruised to a 4-1 victory against Hong Kong XI.
It wasn’t just Messi, who didn’t make an appearance. Even Luis Suarez was left on the bench and didn’t come on as a substitute. Throughout the second-half, “We want Messi” chants echoed through the stadium, and fans were left bitterly disappointed.
Then at the final whistle when Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham tried to thank the spectators for their support, fans jeered and booed at him, with thumbs-down gestures.
Many fans also began to chant for refunds, but according to the organiser, it won’t be facilitated. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government said in a statement, “Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the Government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organiser’s arrangement. The organiser owes all football fans an explanation.”
One angry fan took it to another level as he furiously kicked Messi’s cardboard cut-out, shattering the former Barcelona player’s head. It perfectly summed up the mood of fans in Hong Kong, who had purchased the tickets to witness the 2022 World Cup winner in action.
Here is the video of a fan kicking Messi’s head out of the cardboard cut-out:
Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino apologised to fans, but revealed that Messi wasn’t fit to appear. “We also enjoyed today in the stadium, but understand there is a lot of disappointment among fans because of the absence of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. This has been the decision of the medical team, we have checked their physical situation, and if we sent them on the pitch, we would have risked their physical well being. We understand fans are very disappointed and we ask for their forgiveness. We wish we could have sent them on the pitch for a while to play, but the risk was too big,” he said.
38,323 fans were present at the stadium, and had spent upwards of 1,000 Hong Kong dollars for tickets.