Lionel Messi Defends Injury Absence In Hong Kong Friendly

Lionel Messi || Photo: Collected

Lionel Messi || Photo: Collected

Lionel Messi has issued his defence after Inter Miami were booed by fans at a friendly in Hong Kong because he didn't play.

The Argentine icon sat on the bench for the entirety of his side's 4-1 win against a Hong Kong XI on Sunday.

Thousands attended the Hong Kong stadium to watch the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner in action but were left disappointed.

Messi's no-show sparked chants of 'Where is Messi?' and boos from the fans, with the trophy presentation also met with jeers.

The Hong Kong government even released a statement about the legend's absence and Secretary for culture, sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung said that he was due to play for 45 minutes.

Messi has now spoken and insisted: "I always want to play, especially in these games where we travel so far and people want to see our games.

"Unfortunately this happens in football. In any game, it can happen that you can't play. I hope we can return and play a game in Hong Kong."

Inter Miami substitutes were also booed when they made their way onto the pitch as Messi remained sat on the bench.

Club co-owner David Beckham thanked supporters during a post-match speech but he too was met with jeers from the stands.

After Inter Miami's 6-0 thumping by Al Nassr in their previous friendly, a scan revealed that Messi's hamstring his some swelling.

Despite this, he said he 'feels a lot better' and could feature in their next friendly against Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.

Messi's boyhood club Newell's Old Boys will be their final pre-season opponents ahead of their return to MLS action.

Inter Miami kick-off the new campaign at home to Real Salt Lake as they eye a vast improvement on last year's 14th place finish.

Messi scored 11 goals in 14 appearances in his debut season and was crucial to their Leagues Cup triumph, their first-ever trophy win.

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