The debate surrounding Lionel Messi’s choice not to play in Hong Kong seems to be going away

The 36-year-old Lionel Messi’s last game in mainland China was in June, when he captained Argentina against Australia in a friendly played in a packed Beijing stadium.
The disputes surrounding Lionel Messi’s decision not to participate in a football game in Hong Kong appear to be going away, as many Chinese people have taken to social media to express their anger.
Weibo’s top trending items on Wednesday included remarks made by Hong Kong sports lawmaker Kenneth Fok, who accused Messi and his US team Inter Miami of disrespecting local supporters. Another well-liked subject was “Messi’s Mess,” in part.

Numerous analysts compared Messi’s actions in Hong Kong to his mannerisms in Japan, where he will play in a friendly on Wednesday night.The Argentine World Cup winner stated he felt better and hoped to be able to play in a press conference on Tuesday in Tokyo. Messi said that adductor muscle soreness kept him off the field for the Hong Kong game.

The debate surrounding Lionel Messi's choice not to play in Hong Kong seems to be going away

What can I say, grumbling in China but grinning in Japan?Among the most liked comments was this one. “He has demonstrated his politics and chosen a side. Don’t make another visit.

Another indication that the story is spreading outside Hong Kong is the questioning of Messi’s inability to play by the former head editor of China’s nationalist publication Global Times. Hu Xijin questioned the star’s lack of a handshake with Hong Kong leader John Lee in a post on X, seeking an apology to the Chinese fan base.

Messi’s alliances with Chinese companies may be jeopardized by public outrage. A post that Messi posted on Weibo to promote the Chi Shui He liquor brand was overwhelmed with hundreds Chinese comments, many of which urged the company to sever its relationship with the Argentine.

As a result of Japan’s colonial conquests and World War II horrors, China and Japan have a long history of animosity. China and Japan’s government ships frequently try to drive one another out of the waters surrounding disputed islands in the East China Sea. However, Japan is a significant trading partner of China and one of the largest foreign investors in the country.

Nationalistic groups in China often criticize foreign people and brands, and the backlash has gotten stronger in recent years. 2019 saw criticism of Versace, Christian Dior SE, Coach, Givenchy, and Hong Kong for considering Taiwan or Hong Kong to be independent nations from China. The chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jamie Dimon, resigned two years later and issued an apology, claiming that his bank would probably outlive China’s Communist Party.

Chinese officials have not responded to requests for comment, but the government of Hong Kong released a statement expressing how “extremely disappointed” officials and football fans were that Messi was unable to participate in the friendly match and provide an in-person explanation to the supporters.

In the wake of the uproar, Tatler Asia, the event organizer, decided on Monday to lose HK$16 million ($2 million) in government funds. CEO Michel Lamuniere attributed the incident to Inter Miami, claiming that at the beginning of the game, the organizer was informed that Messi was healthy to play. The team disregarded calls for Messi to address the crowd when it was evident he wouldn’t be playing, according to Lamuniere.

Inter Miami expressed regret on Wednesday for Messi and teammate Luis Suárez’s inability to play in the match in its first official statement over the disaster. The team said that in order to increase the players’ prospects of playing, it had waited until the very last minute to rule them out.

The US team sent out an email stating, “We do feel it necessary to express that injuries are unfortunately a part of the beautiful game, and our player’s health must always come first.” The club also expressed their eagerness to visit Hong Kong again.

The 36-year-old Messi’s last game in mainland China was in June, when he captained Argentina against Australia in a friendly played in a full Beijing stadium. The Argentine football association states that his squad will play exhibition matches in China in March against Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

At 7 p.m. local time, Messi, the public face of Saudi Arabia’s tourist promotion, will take on Vissel Kobe at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo. Inter Miami had only won one game on this final part of their worldwide preseason trip, that being their match in Hong Kong.

Inter Miami is one of the more recent teams playing in Major League Soccer in the United States, having been founded in 2018. David Beckham, a co-owner and former star of Manchester United FC, Real Madrid CF, and the LA Galaxy, supported its launch.

Messi signed with the team a year ago. The managing owner of Inter Miami, billionaire Jorge Mas, stated in a July interview that the company’s worth would approach $1.5 billion in a year.

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