Messi’s absence in Hong Kong forces reimbursement from the organizers

HONG KONG.- The organizers of a much-publicized friendly match that would have Lionel Messi in Hong Kong They reported on Friday that they will offer a 50% refund after the indignation of fans and the government over the absence of the Argentine world champion.

The anger in Hong Kong is due to the fact that Messi remained on the bench for the 90 minutes against a local team due to a muscle injury last weekend and it spread to mainland China, after the star played half an hour on Wednesday in Tokyo, in a match that ended Inter Miami’s promotional tour in Asia.

Over the past two days, many social media users in mainland China expressed their displeasure that Messi did not play in China. The Chinese official newspaper Global Times published an editorial in which it was pointed out that the impact of the controversy surrounding the striker “far exceeds the sporting sphere.”

In a message posted on Instagram on Friday, the local promotion company Tatler Asia apologized to the people who left the friendly disappointed and who were irritated “by the obvious lack of respect towards the public.”

They reiterated that they begged Miami managers to ask Messi to give an explanation to the spectators after learning that the footballer, who had a requirement to play 45 minutes unless he was injured in the contract they signed, was not going to play.

“It did not. The fact that Messi… played in Japan on February 7 is like another slap in the face,” he added.

Tatler Asia said it is in contact with the government to resolve the matter and that refund details will be announced in mid-March.

“We are not going to escape our responsibility as organizers and that is why Tatler Asia will offer all those who purchased tickets for the match through official channels a 50% refund,” he said.

Tickets had a maximum cost of 4.88 billion Hong Kong dollars (624 in US dollars). Tatler Asia said it will return HK$56 million (US$7.2 million). They will take a loss of 43 million Hong Kong dollars (5.5 million in US dollars). Prior to the refund, the company was going to invoice 13 million Hong Kong dollars (1.7 million in US dollars)

The Hong Kong government gave its approval, calling the refund an act of responsibility. But he added that Hong Kong society still deserves to receive answers, especially after seeing Messi play in Japan, and that Inter Miami must speak out publicly.

Inter Miami has not responded to questions from The Associated Press.

Messi, between love and hate:

On the Weibo social network, some Chinese users said that Messi is not welcome in their country. But others defended the Argentine by pointing out that he interacted with Hong Kongers.

Messi could return to China with the Argentina team next month to play a couple of friendly matches as part of his preparation for this year’s Copa América.

The friendly in Tokyo completed a global tour for Miami, which included commitments in El Salvador, Dallas, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Miami only won one of the six exhibition games. The Garzas’ preseason will culminate on February 16 in Florida against Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood club in Rosario, Argentina. He is expected to conclude his career there.