Messi refutes any suggestion that his absence from the Hong Kong match was politically motivated

Argentine football icon Lionel Messi has addressed speculation surrounding his absence from a recent match in Hong Kong, asserting that it was not a deliberate snub but rather due to injury.

In a video posted on China’s Weibo social media platform, Messi dismissed claims suggesting political motives behind his decision, stating unequivocally that had that been the case, he would not have travelled to Hong Kong in the first instance.

He expressed, “I would not have travelled” to Hong Kong initially. “As everyone knows, I always want to play and be in every game,” he added.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner emphasized his desire to participate in every match, reinforcing his commitment to the sport. Despite his absence from the pitch during Inter Miami’s 4-1 victory against a Hong Kong select XI on February 4, Messi faced criticism from disappointed spectators who had hoped to witness his performance.

Messi’s non-participation led to discontent among fans, with some demanding refunds after having invested considerable sums to see the renowned World Cup-winning captain play. However, Messi’s reputation as one of the greatest players of his generation remains intact, attracting considerable attention and financial support wherever he goes, even in the twilight years of his illustrious career.

While some individuals and media outlets interpreted Messi’s absence as a slight against China, no concrete evidence was provided to support this assertion. Nonetheless, the fallout from Messi’s non-appearance extended to the cancellation of two friendly matches involving world champions Argentina by sports authorities in China.

In his video message, Messi underscored his positive relationship with China, citing numerous past engagements, including matches and events. He reiterated that his decision not to play in Hong Kong was solely due to injury, specifically citing inflammation of an adductor muscle as the reason for his absence.

“I’ve had a very close and special relationship with China and I’ve done a lot of things in China,” the legendary player said in the video. He added that he would like to see China again after sending good wishes to the Chinese people.

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