After disappointing fans in Hong Kong, Lionel Messi leaves open the prospect of participating in Inter Miami’s friendly in Tokyo.
Lionel Messi said he felt “much better” than he did a few days ago, leaving up the prospect of playing in Inter Miami’s friendly in Tokyo after disappointing hordes of fans in Hong Kong by failing to show up on the pitch over the weekend.
For both his Major League Soccer team and the local event organizers, the Argentine’s benching for the eagerly awaited encounter in front of a sold-out crowd at Hong Kong Stadium has become a public relations disaster.
Messi revealed to the media on Tuesday that it was “disappointing” that he was unable to play, citing swelling in his adductor muscle. This was Messi’s first media appearance since the squad and its co-owner David Beckham were jeered off the pitch.
“In Hong Kong, we had an open-door training session and I went out because there was such a big crowd there and there was a clinic with the kids, and I wanted to be there and participate,” the 36-year-old told a press conference at a Tokyo hotel.
“But the truth is that the discomfort was still there and it was very difficult for me to play.
“I can understand that people were looking forward to it and I hope that there will be another opportunity for me to play in Hong Kong.”
The captain of Inter Miami, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 2022, was evasive when asked if he would play in Wednesday’s friendly matchup with J-League winners Vissel Kobe.
“For tomorrow, I don’t know, we’ll need to see how it goes in training today,” he added. “We still don’t know if I would be able to or not, but I feel much better than I did a few days ago and really want to be able to play.”
Following the last-minute cancellation of appearances by Beckham, coach Tata Martino, and teammates Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets, Messi addressed the press conference by himself.
A day before the Tokyo match, many tickets remained available, unlike in Hong Kong, where they had gone on sale in late December.