Hong Kong Goes Into Meltdown as Messi Misses Match

By Ned Kelly, February 5, 2024

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Inter Miami’s much-hyped match at Hong Kong Stadium turned from dream to nightmare for excited fans – many of whom had shelled out large sums of money for a ticket – after FIFA World Cup 2022 winning captain Lionel Messi, the contest's star attraction, spent the evening on the substitute bench.

A comedy meme made by a fan who saw the funny side.

Those who have watched new Netflix documentary Beckham will know that Inter Miami are owned by former England Captain David Beckham, but not even Golden Balls could calm the crowd – his golden reputation in tatters as boos rained down from the stands at the final whistle.

More Messi debacle meme action.

A humbled Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino was forced to spend his post-match press duties begging the people of Hong Kong for forgiveness over both Messi and Luis Suarez's failure to make it onto the field of play, explaining that it was "the decision of the medical team" earlier in the day.

Questions have been raised over precisely when Messi was ruled out through injury, and why no advance announcement was made, with people in the stadium chanting for refunds during the postmatch presentations.

The decision to postpone Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr's recent China tour last month under similar circumstances – and immediately offer refunds – suddenly seems a very wise move indeed.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo's China Tour Hits a Snag

Only established in 2018, this was Inter Miami's very first visit to Hong Kong. If first impressions count, then own goal doesn't come close to covering it – with one young fan's reaction going viral for perfectly summing up the frustrations of an entire city...

On a brighter note, Messi is remembered fondly on the mainland. You might remember that World Champions Argentina played Australia in a friendly international in Beijing back in June.

Messi scored in that game, but that wasn't what made the headlines. No, they were dominated by the act of one young fan, who audaciously invaded the pitch – and expertly evaded security – to hug his hero.

READ MORE: Kid Invades Pitch to Hug Messi, Becomes Instant Legend

Image via Weibo/@界外编辑部

Image via Weibo/@界外编辑部

Watch a video of the incident below:

Sadly, the young pitch-invader didn't get off scot-free. Those joyless fellows at the Chaoyang District Public Security Bureau (PSB) arrested him and put him in administrative detention.

READ MORE: The Messi Hugging Pitch Invader? He Finally Got Arrested...

He was also issued with a 12-month ban on attending similar sporting events – so the good news for him is he will have been forced to miss the Hong Kong debacle.

[Cover image via Inter Miami]

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