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    HomeSportsLionel Messi affair escalates in Hong Kong

    Lionel Messi affair escalates in Hong Kong

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    Sports minister threatens Inter Miami
    Lionel Messi affair escalates in Hong Kong

    When Inter Miami travels the world, everyone wants to see just one player: Lionel Messi. But there is a tiny problem at the moment. The football superhero is injured. So the Argentinian cannot take part in a test in Hong Kong. This leads to a strange farce.

    The farce surrounding reserve player Lionel Messi is entering the next round. As Hong Kong's sports minister Kevin Yeung explained, Argentina's world champion captain was actually contractually obliged to play at least 45 minutes in his club Inter Miami's match against a local selection. However, to the dismay of fans, this did not happen on Sunday.

    During the match, government officials were repeatedly assured that Messi would play, said Yeung. However, ten minutes before the end, they learned that this was not possible due to the superstar's thigh injury.

    “We immediately asked them to look for other solutions, such as having Messi appear on the pitch to talk to the fans and receive a trophy,” said Yeung. Since this did not happen either, the Ministry of Sports could now even withhold the planned sponsorship money for the event. Up to 16 million Hong Kong dollars (about 1.9 million euros) could not be paid out, said Yeung.

    115 euros for a look at the injured person

    On Sunday, the huge hype surrounding Messi had gradually turned into disappointment and anger. The eight-time world footballer had previously triggered a veritable “Messi-Mania” and almost 40,000 spectators had come to the Hong Kong Stadium. They had paid up to 115 euros for a ticket to see arguably the best player of his time.

    Miami's co-owner David Beckham tried in vain to thank the fans for the “incredible support” after the game – he was booed like Messi and Uruguayan Luis Suárez (knee injury), who also did not appear on the pitch.

    “We understand the fans' disappointment,” said Inter coach Gerardo Martino, “we apologize. We would have liked to have sent Lio and Luis onto the pitch at least for a short time, but the risk was too high.” The fans' chants of “We want Messi” went unheeded. On a five-game tour before the start of the MLS season, Messi had at least played a few minutes in Saudi Arabia – his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr) missed the duel due to injury.

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