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    Hong Kong: “Messi a pouting ballerina in a pink tutu”


    Bizarre dispute over world champions
    Hong Kong: “Messi a pouting ballerina in a pink tutu”

    Before the new season, Inter Miami, the team around superstar Lionel Messi, is traveling around the world. In Saudi Arabia they lost 6-0 to Al-Nassr, in Hong Kong Messi is injured. This leads to a bizarre argument that has now drifted into the realm of conspiracy theories.

    The bizarre controversy surrounding Lionel Messi and his visit to Hong Kong has reached several new heights. It's about rejection, conspiracy and an unhappy flamingo. World champion Messi was a guest at Hong Kong XI last Sunday with his club Inter Miami from the US Major League Soccer.

    Around 38,000 fans came, some from as far away as Australia, to see the Argentine play. But the 36-year-old, like former FC Barcelona striker Luis Suárez, sat on the bench for 90 minutes in the Americans' 4-1 win. Messi later said he had adductor problems. The fans in the stadium didn't want to know anything about it. They expressed their anger with boos and, in the days that followed, with angry posts online. It was part of an avalanche that is rolling faster and faster towards absurdity and it is still unclear where it will stop and what it could take with it until then.

    Messi wanted to harm Hong Kong's economy

    The excitement has now drifted into the realm of conspiracy theories, among other things. The influential Chinese tabloid Global Times recently suggested that foreign powers had conspired to damage the city's reputation.

    “One theory is that Messi's actions have political motives,” said an article in the newspaper: “As Hong Kong intends to boost the economy through the event, and external forces deliberately wanted to embarrass Hong Kong through this incident.” As the situation develops, “the possibility of this speculation cannot be ruled out.”

    “The whole of Hong Kong hates Lionel Messi”

    Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post took it personally, very personally. She thundered breathlessly: “The whole of Hong Kong hates Messi – and he deserves it.” The opinion piece was almost poetic. “Heaven knows no anger that turns love into hate,” it said in the introduction: “And hell knows no anger that arouses a despised city: That's why Hong Kong now hates Lionel Messi.”

    The Argentine deserved to “incur the wrath of the public.” The rest of the club, especially David Beckham, the “incompetent co-owner of the club”, would have some explaining to do. But an apology is not desired, her demeanor is too arrogant and too aloof. This is followed by a merciless reckoning with Inter Miami and Messi as well as an unhealthy portion of lamentation about the failed PR coup.

    After further wild insults against the world champion (“sat on the bench in pink, stubborn like an unhappy flamingo – you could just as easily have been watching a pouting little ballerina in a tutu” etc. etc.), the text ends with a dirge. “If we didn't idolize her so much, maybe we wouldn't be so devastated,” it says and you can see the tears flowing.

    Organizer announces partial refund

    On a more substantive level, the anger of angry fans also has an impact. The organizer has announced a partial refund. “We will not shirk our responsibilities as organizers and therefore Tatler Asia will offer a 50 percent refund to everyone who purchased a matchday ticket through official channels,” the organizer wrote on its Facebook page. Tatler Asia wanted to announce the further procedure for this by mid-March. The government of China's Special Administrative Region, which had demanded an explanation for the debacle, welcomed the organizer's offer.

    On Wednesday, Messi played in a friendly against Vissel Kobe in Japan, which fueled the fans' frustration. The club has contractually guaranteed that Messi and Suárez should play 45 minutes in Hong Kong unless they are injured, Tatler Asia said. Inter Miami informed the organizers that Messi and Suárez could not play due to injury. The fact that both were on the field in Japan felt like “another slap in the face,” wrote Tatler Asia.

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