Lionel Messi, 37, Inter Miami, played in Japan after his “no-show” in Hong Kong.
Inter Miami drew 0-0 with J-League side Vissel Kobe in a friendly at the Tokyo National Stadium on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
More than the result of the match, the focus was on Messi’s participation. Messi sat out alongside Luis Suarez in a friendly against the Hong Kong All-Stars at Hong Kong Stadium on April 4. Inter Miami won the match 4-1.
The cheapest tickets to the stadium that day were HK$1,000 (about $170,000). The stadium’s 40,000 seats sold out early to see Messi. Organizers paid HK$15 million to bring Messi to the game.
But Messi didn’t show up. Hong Kong fans were very disappointed. They demanded an apology and a refund when Messi didn’t show up. It turns out that there was a clause in the contract that required Messi to play at least 45 minutes. The Hong Kong government is even threatening to sue the club for damages. The same incident that happened in South Korea was replicated in Hong Kong.
As the incident escalated,
Messi said at a press conference in Japan on June 6, “I was very unlucky. In the first game in Saudi Arabia, I felt discomfort in my adductor muscle. The MRI showed it wasn’t an injury, but I felt uncomfortable. I wanted to play in Hong Kong, but I couldn’t (due to the injury). I hope to get a chance to play next time,” he said.
But that didn’t change the cold reception in Hong Kong. 온라인카지노 Even if Messi were to play in Japan, Hong Kong fans would feel even more betrayed.
Against Kobe, Messi was left out of the starting lineup. Dressed in a black jumper, Messi sat on the bench for the entire first half. Tens of thousands of fans had come only to see Messi. Many fans wore Messi’s jersey. Not only Japanese fans, but also Argentine fans living in Japan came to the stadium in large numbers.
In the 20th minute of the first half, Busquets had to be substituted after stepping on his left ankle. His best friend Luis Suarez continued to play. But it didn’t go unnoticed. With Messi on the bench, there was a loud chant of “Messi” to encourage him to come on. Messi ended up not playing in the first half.
At the start of the second half,
Messi took off his jumper, got up, and warmed up by running among the substitutes. The crowd erupted in cheers. They chanted “Messi” once again.
Finally, in the 14th minute of the second half, Messi took off his jersey and got ready to play. The crowd erupted in a huge roar. Even though it was a Japanese home game, most of the fans were cheering for Messi. In the 15th minute of the second half, Messi entered the field, replacing David Luiz. It was like watching a Messi concert. Tens of thousands of spectators were busy taking pictures.
As soon as Messi got the ball, it was as if a goal had been scored. Messi, who was not feeling well, refrained from sprinting. The broadcast cameras were also focused on his every move. The game was already won or lost.
As for the match itself, Kobe was the better team. Kobe blew a great chance to open the scoring in the first half and failed to capitalize on a no-mark opportunity in the second half. Kobe’s lack of finishing kept the score at 0-0. The Japanese fans didn’t care, they were chanting “Messi”.
Messi’s role in the midfield was to distribute the ball to the frontline attackers.
The flashes of passing and footwork were enough to keep the Japanese fans entertained. In the 20th minute of the second half, Messi’s brilliant dribble between the four defenders and his passing was enough to send the fans into a frenzy. His mere presence was enough to make the fans happy. It was more like a concert than a soccer game.
Messi’s best friend, Luis Suarez, even took a scissor kick in the 27th minute. It didn’t result in a goal, but the crowd went wild for the high-level soccer. For the Kobe players who didn’t make the Japanese national team, it was an honor to be on the same field as Messi.
In the 34th minute of the second half, Messi was one-on-one with the goalkeeper and fired a powerful left-footed shot. The goalkeeper blocked it with his body. The goal didn’t go in, but the crowd went wild. Few fans cheered for Kobe in the match in Tokyo.
With his appearance against Kobe, Messi fulfilled the wishes of the Japanese fans. Even though he only played for a short time, he was greeted with chants of “Messi! However, the Hong Kong fans were still left with an irreparable wound. When Messi skipped Hong Kong and played in Japan, the sigh of disappointment was even louder. The legal battle over ticket refunds is still ongoing.