Hong Kong fans boo Beckham after Messi no-show
Fans weren't happy when Lionel Messi didn't play in a much-touted exhibition match in Hong Kong. Photo: AAP
David Beckham has been booed while angry fans chanted for a refund after Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi didn’t play in an eagerly-awaited pre-season friendly in Hong Kong.
Messi, who has been suffering with a hamstring injury, was left on the bench on Sunday as his side beat a Hong Kong XI 4-1.
In footage posted on social media, fans could be heard chanting “refund” before a post-match speech from Miami co-owner Beckham was greeted with boos.
Messi (right) stayed on the Inter bench throughout the Hong Kong match. Photo: AAP
The Hong Kong government said match organiser Tatler Asia could face a reduction in funding.
“The government today expressed deep disappointment over Messi not playing at Tatler XFEST Hong Kong, Hong Kong Team vs Inter Miami CF, and the organiser failing to provide a detailed explanation promptly,” the government said in a statement.
“The event has been awarded ‘M’ Mark status, as well as a matching grant of 15 million [Hong Kong dollars; $2.9 million] and a grant for venue of 1 million by The Major Sports Events Committee.
“The government has also provided a variety of coordination and assistance, including venue arrangement and crowd management, in order to offer football fans a wonderful game and an opportunity to witness the world-class player showcasing his skills.
“Many Hong Kong fans looked forward to the match with enthusiasm, and a lot of tourists came to Hong Kong particularly for the match.
“The government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed that Messi could neither play in the friendly match, nor explain to the fans in person upon request.
“The way that the organiser and Inter Miami CF handled the situation could not meet the expectations of the fans who showed strong support to Messi, especially those visitors who came all the way here for the match.
“The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau and the MSEC will rely on the terms and conditions of the agreement in requiring the organiser to take responsibility, including a reduction of the amount of funding as a result of Messi being not able to play in the match.”