April 21, 2024

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Lionel Messi explains his absence from the Hong Kong friendly match: “I read and heard a lot of things”

Lionel Messi explains his absence from the Hong Kong friendly match: “I read and heard a lot of things”

Argentine star Lionel Messi once again tried to explain his absence from a friendly match in Hong Kong after being accused of “deliberate and calculated contempt” by not playing.

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

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

Messi expanded on Martino's statements that indicated that he was suffering from inflammation in the adductor muscle, but he went further in his talk about the problem and its subsequent repercussions on Monday, as he went further to explain the reason for not playing.

“I have read and heard a lot of things about what happened after the match in Hong Kong,” he said in a video message posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo. “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 don't want to play because of politics and many other things that have nothing to do with this. If that were the case I would not have traveled to Japan or China as I have done so many times in my career.

(Peter Parkes/AFP via Getty Images)

“I have always had a very close relationship with China. I have done many things with China such as interviews, (friendly) matches, events and matches with Barcelona and the Argentine national team. As I said during my press conference: I had inflammation of the adductor muscle and could not play. I felt this in the first match I played in Saudi Arabia and I tried to play in the second match (in Saudi Arabia), but it was worse.

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“I tried the other day to participate in that training session to be there for all these people. I did my best and participated in the clinic with all these kids, but honestly I couldn't play because I felt uncomfortable.

“After a few days I felt a little better and that's why I played a little bit in the friendly match in Japan in order to keep improving physically and keep preparing for what comes 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 all that has been said. I want to send my love to the people of China, which is (the feeling) I've always had with them. I hope we can see each other again soon.”

Martino said earlier that the decision to play Messi for 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe was only agreed upon after the team's training session the night before.

He said: “After training on Tuesday evening, (Messi) said he felt good and we agreed that he would play for 30 minutes.” He added: “We are very happy now that the match is over because Messi looked very comfortable.”

“It was really a big risk to even play with him for a few minutes,” Martino had previously said after the match against the Hong Kong team.

Inter Miami begins its MLS season by facing Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

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(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)