Lionel Messi explains Hong Kong friendly absence: ‘I’ve read and heard a lot of things’


Lionel Messi has attempted to once again explain his absence from a friendly in Hong Kong after being accused of a “deliberate and calculated snub” by not playing.

The Hong Kong government said it was “extremely disappointed” by Messi’s failure to play in a game between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong XI earlier this month and demanded an explanation from event organisers.

Head coach Tata Martino later claimed the decision not to play the 36-year-old was due to an ongoing injury for his star player but the situation escalated further when he did feature against Vissel Kobe in Japan three days later.

Messi expanded on Martino’s comments indicating he had suffered from inflammation in his adductor but addressing the issue and the subsequent fallout on Monday he went further to clarify why he didn’t play.

“I’ve read and heard a lot of things about what happened after the match in Hong Kong,” he said in a video message. “That’s why I wanted to make this video to give the real explanation and avoid reading false reports.

“As everyone knows, I always want to play. I want to play in every match. I heard that I didn’t want to play because of politics and many other things that have nothing to do with this. If that were the case I wouldn’t have traveled to Japan or to China like I have so many times in my career.


(Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’ve always had a very close relationship with China. I’ve done so many things with China like interviews, (friendly) matches, events and games with Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Like I said during the press conference that I gave: I had inflammation in my adductor and I couldn’t play. I felt it in the first game that I played in Saudi Arabia and I tried to play in the second game (in Saudi) but it felt worse.

“I tried the day before to take part in that training session to be there for all those people. I did what I could and I took part in the clinic with all those kids, but I honestly couldn’t play because I felt discomfort.

“After a few days had passed I felt a little better and that’s why I played a bit in the friendly in Japan in order to continue improving physically and continue to prepare for what’s coming next for me. I had to play to get some rhythm back.

“I’ve already said this but I felt it was important to repeat it after everything that has been said. I want to send my love to the people of China, a (feeling) I’ve always had with them. I hope we can see each other again soon.”

Martino said previously the decision to play Messi for 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe was only agreed upon after the side’s training session the evening before.

“After practice on Tuesday in the evening, he (Messi) said he felt good and we agreed he would play 30 minutes,” he said. “We are very content now after the game is over because Messi looked very comfortable.”

Martino had previously said after the match against the Hong Kong XI: “It really was an enormous risk even playing him for a few minutes.”

Inter Miami kick off their MLS season against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

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(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)





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