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Lionel Messi continues to receive China backlash over missed match!

Lionel Messi continues to receive backlash from fans in China after he failed to make an appearance in a recent match between Inter Miami and Hong Kong earlier in the month.

Messi did not make an appearance during the friendly exhibition matchup between Inter Miami and Hong Kong XI on February 4th. He remained on the bench and cited an injury as the reason for his absence on the field.

Despite this, State media outlet Global Times speculated that the former Barcelona man sat out of the fixture due to “political motives” and had the intention to “embarrass” China – something which the man himself strongly rejects.

Lionel Messi remained on the bench during Inter Miami's matchup with Hong Kong in the China capital.
Image credit: BBC

However, just a few days after his missing the match in Hong Kong, Messi took to the field in another friendly exhibition in Japan.

This was enough to tip the scales against him, and he has received a huge backlash from the country and its people for weeks since.

Around 38,000 fans booed Inter Miami owner David Beckham at the end of the match as he addressed them, demanding refunds for tickets in which some had paid over £400 for.

Tatler Asia, who had organised the event, promised fans a 50% refund due to Messi’s absence on the pitch.

However, other figures such as Hong Kong law maker Regina Ip had stronger words for Messi following his on-pitch absence in the Chinese capital.

She said “Hong Kong people hate Messi, Inter-Miami, and the black hand behind them” for the “deliberate and calculated snub”.

Lionel Messi fans in China demand a refund after his failure to make an appearance on the pitch.
Image credit: ABC7 News

She was joined by the Territory’s Chief Executive John Lee, who said he was extremely disappointed by Messi’s absence and demanded an explanation from match organisers.

Chinese officials have even gone as far to cancel 2 Argentina friendlies that were due to be played in the country.

The touring World Champions were set to play the Ivory Coast in Beijing, and Nigeria in Hangzhou.

However, football authorities in China’s capital said “Beijing does not plan, for the moment, to organise the match in which Lionel Messi was to participate.”

The Hangzhou Sports Bureau also stated that the game had been called off due to “the reasons that everyone knows” as kickback against Lionel Messi in China continues.

What Lionel Messi thinks of China…

Following the huge backlash from fans in China, Lionel Messi took to social media channel Weibo to explain his absence and try to calm tensions against him.

In the post, he stated that the claims of his “political motives” were “totally untrue” with Messi stressing to fans “Had that been the case, I wouldn’t have even travelled to Japan or visited China as many times as I have.”

Messi has strong affiliations with Chinese brands such as Huawei, Chery, and Tencent, and was received as a hero in the country when Argentina played Australia in last year.

Lionel Messi claims that an injury in China kept him from taking to the field against Hong Kong XI
Image credit: Bangkok Post

He also said in his Weibo post that he had a “special affection” for the people of China, and reiterated that his absence in the Hong Kong match was due to an inflamed adductor muscle.

“I tried to train and made an effort for all those who’d come to watch training,” he said. 

“I did all I could. I also went along to the football clinic with all the kids. But I really couldn’t play. I felt discomfort and there was a risk it’d get worse.”

Lionel Messi may well have had the chance to protest his innocence to the people of China, but his Weibo post, which had over 55,000 comments at the time of writing this article, still has a strong mix of those for and against the GOAT.