Inter Miami Asian tour: organizer will refund part of tickets to Hong Kong fans

They had paid between 105 and 580 euros to attend the friendly match between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong League XI on February 4

Inter Miami Asian tour: organizer will refund part of tickets to Hong Kong fans

They had paid between 105 and 580 euros to attend the friendly match between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong League XI on February 4. Or, more precisely, to see the head of the Florida franchise play: Lionel Messi. The Argentine world champion, injured, did not set foot on the pitch that day – contrary to what the organizer had announced –, provoking the ire of supporters and local politicians.

On the social network “Hong Kong people hate Messi, Inter Miami and the dark hand behind them, for the deliberate and calculated snub inflicted on Hong Kong,” she wrote in a first message. And continued, in a second: “Messi should not be allowed to come back here. His lies and hypocrisy are sickening. »

What really ignited the powder and caused the exit of Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee was that the eight-time Ballon d'Or participated in the last match of his club's Asian tour, in Japan, against the local champion, Vissel Kobe, on February 7, playing thirty minutes of the match. The controversy has spread to mainland China, with some going so far as to accuse the football superstar of seeking to humiliate Beijing. His absence from the field was at the top of conversations on the social network Weibo all week, while a post where he expressed his regrets was flooded with mocking comments and memes.

“Injuries are part of the game.”

As early as February 4, the Hong Kong government intervened, notably through its Secretary of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to threaten to withdraw part of the more than 1.8 million euros in public subsidies granted to the The organizer of the event, the media specializing in luxury and lifestyle Tatler Asia, which was committed to the participation of the “Pulga”.

“Injuries are part of the game and we understand that. However, we were saddened by the fact that the players did not show enough respect towards the supporters present, the company argued in a press release on Friday February 9. We immediately asked the owners and management of Inter Miami to urge Messi to appear in front of the public and explain to them in person why he could not play. But that ultimately wasn't the case. »

Tatler Asia, which said it was “deeply sorry”, promised more than 38,000 viewers a 50% refund. According to Bloomberg, this could cost it 6.7 million euros, when the firm could hope for around 12 million euros in profits. Lionel Messi is expected to return to mainland China as early as next month, as the Argentine Football Federation has reached a commercial agreement with Zhongfu Sports CO Group. The Albiceleste will play two matches against an as yet unknown opponent, in preparation for the Copa America, which they open as title holders on June 21.