Lionel Messi has apologized to fans who were disappointed that he did not appear in a practice match last week. There was an uproar because the Argentine sat on the bench for the entire practice match.Embed from Getty Images
The situation involving the Hong Kong government's significant investment in a high-profile practice match featuring Inter Miami has attracted considerable attention, particularly due to the absence of key players like Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez.
The government reportedly spent about two million euros to organize this event, anticipating that the presence of such renowned players would be a major draw for fans and a boon for local enthusiasm for the sport.
However, the match didn't go as planned. Messi and Suárez, two of the most celebrated players on the Inter Miami squad, did not participate in the game, leading to widespread disappointment among the fans who had been eagerly anticipating their appearance. This was particularly disheartening because their presence was a significant factor in the match's appeal. The audience's reaction was immediate and vocal, with booing heard after the final whistle, and some fans even demanded refunds, expressing their dissatisfaction with the situation.
The response from the Hong Kong authorities to this turn of events was stern. They threatened to retract the subsidy provided for the match, a move that indicates the level of their disappointment and the financial implications of the players' absence.
Lionel Messi, aware of the situation and the fans' disappointment, addressed the issue. He offered his apologies, attributing his absence to bad luck and referencing a groin injury that prevented him from participating. Messi's comments, made during a press event in Japan, highlighted his regret over the situation, emphasizing that as a professional athlete, he always aims to be on the field, especially considering the fans' eagerness to see him play.
Looking ahead, Messi's participation in upcoming matches remains uncertain. He has already indicated that he might not play in a scheduled practice match against Vissel Kobe. Despite feeling better compared to a few days earlier, Messi intends to make a final decision on his participation after the last training session. His cautious approach suggests that he is keen to avoid aggravating his injury.
Inter Miami's pre-season preparations involve an extensive schedule of practice matches around the world, underscoring their commitment to a robust start in the upcoming Major League Soccer season. They have already faced several teams, including the national team of El Salvador and clubs like FC Dallas, Al-Hilal, and Al-Nassr. These matches serve as crucial preparation for the team, providing them with diverse competition and helping them gauge their readiness for the upcoming season.
Following the match against Vissel Kobe, Inter Miami is scheduled to play against Newell's Old Boys, a club with a personal connection to Messi as it was his youth club. This match is part of their continued preparations leading up to the start of their season in the MLS, which is set to commence on February 22. This global tour and the variety of opponents they face underscore Inter Miami's commitment to entering the new season with a well-prepared and cohesive team.