LIONEL MESSI denies accusations that he skipped Inter Miami's exhibition in Hong Kong over politics

Monday, February 19, 2024
 – Lionel Messi has denied accusations that he skipped Inter Miami's exhibition in Hong Kong earlier this month over politics.

Chinese state media, Hong Kong politicians, and fans reacted angrily when the 36-year-old Argentine forward came off the bench three days later in a friendly match in Tokyo.

Since then Hangzhou and Beijing canceled Argentina vs Nigeria friendly clash scheduled for March over the fallout.

Messi has now come out to speak against the claims that he skipped Inter Miami's exhibition in Hong Kong over politics.

'I've read and heard many things that have been said after the game in Hong Kong. I wanted to record this video and give you the true version so nobody has to continue reading false stories,' Messi said in a video posted on Weibo.

'I've heard people say that I didn't want to play for political reasons and many other reasons that are totally untrue.

'Had that been the case I wouldn't have even travelled to Japan or visited China, as I have many times. Since the start of my career I've had a very close and special relationship with China.'

Messi repeated the reason for his absence from the highly-anticipated game against a local League XI in Hong Kong on February 4.

'As I said in the press conference, I had an inflamed adductor and I couldn't play in the first game in Saudi Arabia, which is when I felt it.

'In the second game, I tried to play for a bit, but it got worse. Then on the day before the game (in Hong Kong) I tried to train and made an effort for all those who had come to watch training.

'It felt a bit better a few days later and that's why I played for a bit in Japan to prepare fitness wise for everything to come because I needed to play and get back up to speed.'

Argentina was scheduled to play Nigeria in the Chinese city of Hangzhou next month before facing the Ivory Coast in Beijing, but Messi's failure to take the field for Inter Miami in Hong Kong on Sunday caused widespread anger among fans.

The organiser of the Hong Kong match said they would give fans a 50-percent refund for tickets after the Argentine did not take the field during their 4-1 win against Hong Kong All-Stars due to injury, but played in Japan days later.

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