Lionel Messi Addresses China Ties Amidst Fan Fury Over Game Absence

Lionel Messi has emphasised his significant connection with China amid ongoing criticism from Chinese supporters over his absence from a match in Hong Kong.

In a video shared on the social media platform Weibo, Messi reiterated that an injury compelled him to miss the game on February 4th.

Despite his absence in Hong Kong, Messi participated in a match in Japan shortly afterward, provoking anger among Chinese fans who hold him in high regard.

The backlash against the Argentine football icon has persisted for weeks, leading Chinese authorities to cancel two upcoming friendlies scheduled for March.

The decision affected matches against Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing, with football authorities in Beijing stating that they currently have no plans to host the game involving Lionel Messi.

The Hangzhou sports bureau also cited known reasons for the cancellation of the match it was slated to host.

In the video posted on Monday, Messi refuted allegations of political motives behind his absence, emphasising his affection for the Chinese people and dismissing claims of deliberate snubbing. He reiterated his physical discomfort due to an inflamed adductor muscle, expressing regret for his inability to participate despite efforts to train and engage with fans.

The post on Weibo, Messi’s second attempt to address his absence, garnered approximately 55,000 comments, with a mix of scepticism and support from fans.

Despite Messi’s absence, some 38,000 fans at the Hong Kong Stadium voiced their disappointment and demanded refunds, prompting organisers to offer a 50% refund to ticket holders.

Hong Kong’s chief executive and other officials expressed dismay over Messi’s absence, demanding explanations from match organizers. Last year, Messi received a warm reception in Beijing during a friendly against Australia, and he maintains endorsement deals with prominent Chinese brands.

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