Argentine football star Lionel Messi has apologized to Chinese fans for skipping a friendly game in Hong Kong over the weekend due to an injury, only to be spotted playing in Japan days after.
in December that it would be traveling to Hong Kong
on Feb. 4, Sunday, to have a friendly match with an all-star Hong Kong team composed of some of the best football
players in the First Division League at the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium.
fans, some of whom paid as much as 4,880 Hong Kong dollars ($624) for tickets and traveled around 12 hours, booed and chanted
“refund” when Messi spent the day on the bench.
What he’s saying:
In a Weibo post
on Wednesday, Messi apologized to angry fans and explained he had to skip the friendly game due to a groin injury, which he described as “swollen and painful.”
“I hope that one day we will have the opportunity to come back,” he noted, adding that he is also looking forward to “returning to the mainland as soon as possible.”
The anger escalated further when Messi was spotted playing briefly at a “not-so-packed” friendly match in Japan
, where he was seen with “seemingly high spirits” without “showing discomfort” following his injury, the Global Times
wrote, noting that the game took place just hours after Messi posted on Weibo.
Hong Kong’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau also commented on the situation, as per Reuters
. The bureau said it was disappointed with how the match in Hong Kong turned out when “Messi was able to play actively and freely in Japan.”
Reactions: Furious Weibo users lashed out at Messi under his post. “We hate you. Go away. Don’t come to China anymore,” one commented.
Another said they understood that Messi could not play in Hong Kong
because of his injuries, but he could have at least interacted with fans.
Meanwhile, one user accused Messi of liking Japan more. “China doesn’t welcome you. Don’t come again,” they noted.