Inter Miami had failed to register a single victory over the previous 4 preseason friendlies. However, on Feb 4th, the MLS side finally won against Hong Kong XI with a scoreline of 4 goals to 1. The victory, though, left many fans disappointed since Lionel Messi, the star of the show, could not play the match. The disappointment was even expressed by the government of the country.
Inter Miami Friendly Misses The Mark
Lionel Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or eight times in his career, is reportedly recovering from an injury to his hamstring. As such, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, the head coach of Inter Miami, did not include the superstar in the squad for the day. On Feb 2nd, Martino had told the press conference that there was a high possibility of Messi playing the game. Other ex-Barcelona stars and teammates of Messi – Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Luis Suarez, were also left on the bench.
As a result, chants of “refund” could be heard from spectators. The government of Hong Kong also stated that Tatler Asia, the match’s organizers, may have their funding reduced following Messi’s absence from the field during the Inter Miami friendly. The MSEC (Major Sports Events Committee) had provided 15Mn Hong Kong dollars ($1.92Mn) to make the event a success. There was an additional grant of 1Mn Hong Kong dollar only dedicated to the venue.
The organizers claimed that Suarez and Messi were expected to play. As such, they were also disappointed after seeing them not feature against Hong Kong XI. Inter Miami’s Martino explained that playing Suarez and Messi would have run the risk of making their injuries worse. While speaking to reporters, he explained that the decision was taken after a long discussion with the medical team.