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Lionel Messi in the Inter Miami jersey


Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Network/IMAGO

Football superstar Lionel Messi has justified himself on Chinese social media after the PR debacle surrounding his canceled appearance in Hong Kong. "I wanted to record this video to give you the true version of the story so that no one has to continue reading false stories," Messi said in a video that appeared on the Chinese online platform Weibo on Tuesday night (local time). .

He said he heard people say he didn't play for political and other reasons. That is “totally wrong.” If that had been the case, he would not have traveled to Japan and China, said the 36-year-old Argentine.

Messi's club Inter Miami hosted Hong Kong XI during pre-season training on February 4th. Many of the approximately 38,000 fans in the stadium in the Chinese special administrative region came because of him. But Messi sat on the bench for 90 minutes in the US club's 4-1 win, earning him nasty comments online from angry fans and boos in the stadium. Hong Kong's government demanded an explanation from the organizer. He, in turn, later announced that he would refund fans part of their entry fee.

As at a press conference in Japan - Miami's next game stop - Messi explained his non-playing with adductor problems. He took part in training in Hong Kong. “I did everything I could,” said the world champion. »But I couldn't play. I felt unwell and there was a risk that it would get worse. Because he felt better a few days later, he played in Japan. Messi's video was at times one of the most discussed topics on Weibo.

Messi moved to Inter Miami in the summer of 2023 after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain ended. His contract with the US club runs until the end of 2025.