After playing Saudi Pro League sides Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr this week, Inter Miami continued their lucrative pre-season tour of Saudi Arabia and the Far East with a game against a Hong Kong XI on Sunday evening.
The Hong Kong Stadium was filled with 38,323 supporters who were all expecting to catch a glimpse of Messi in action, with some paying in excess of 2,000 Hong Kong dollars (£200) for a ticket.
Inter Miami ran out comfortable 4-1 winners but Messi, who is managing a hamstring injury, sat on the bench for the entire game.
Messi’s name was chanted throughout the second half but supporters began to jeer and boo in the final 10 minutes of the game when it became clear that Argentina’s World Cup winner would not make an appearance.
Beckham, who is one of Inter Miami’s co-owners, addressed the hostile crowd to thank them for an ‘incredible welcome’ but the former England captain was drowned out by the boos and shouts of ‘refund’ from supporters inside the stadium.
A fan who attended the game told CNN after leaving the Hong Kong Stadium: ‘I’m very disappointed as everyone else here is.
‘However, I’m not super disappointed he didn’t play because I know he’s suffering from injury and he needs more rest.’
When asked about fans chanting for a refund, the supporter replied: ‘I didn’t like that at all. I expected it but I didn’t like it.
‘I wish it didn’t continue for so long, I think they got the message.
‘David heard it, I couldn’t hear what Beckham was saying at all because the boos were so loud.
‘Tickets weren’t cheap, most expensive football tickets in Hong Kong, I believe. Mine was HKD 2,280 (£222).’
Meanwhile, Inter Miami head coach Tata Martino acknowledged the disappointment from the supporters in Hong Kong but claimed the ‘risk was too big’ with Messi and Luis Suarez, who also remained on the bench.
‘We are thankful to Hong Kong for the past few days, we have been treated very well and felt the openness of the Hong Kong people,’ Martino said.
‘We also enjoyed today in the stadium, but understand there is a lot of disappointment among fans because of the absence of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
‘This has been the decision of the medical team, we have checked their physical situation, and if we sent them on the pitch, we would have risked their physical well being.
‘We understand fans are very disappointed and we ask for their forgiveness. We wish we could have sent them on the pitch for a while to play, but the risk was too big.’
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