Lionel Messi has spoken about his controversial Inter Miami friendly absence amid backlash from fans.
Over the weekend, Messi and his teammates arrived in Hong Kong as they prepared to face a local League XI.
However, fans inside the Hong Kong Stadium, who reportedly paid more than £100 for a ticket, were left disappointed as Messi sat out the match.
Inter Miami went on to win the match 4-1 but the game was marred by Messi’s absence with fans heard chanting ‘We want Messi’ during the second half.
After the match, the Hong Kong government’s major sports events committee issued a statement demanding an explanation, having provided grants of HK$ 16 million to organisers Tatler Asia for the event.
A statement read: “Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organisers’ arrangement. The organisers owe all football fans an explanation.”
Inter Miami manager Tata Martino said the risks were too big to bring Messi and Luis Suarez on.
Now in Tokyo, Messi has spoken about the situation.
He said: “The truth is that it was bad luck that I couldn’t (play) on the day of the Hong Kong match.
“Unfortunately, in football, things can happen in any game, that we may have an injury. It’s a shame because I always want to participate, I want to be there, and even more so when it comes to these games when we travel so far and people are so excited to see our matches.”
He added: “I hope we can return and we can play another game and I can be present. As I do whenever I can. But the truth is that it is a shame that I was not able to participate.”
When asked whether he will play Inter Miami’s match against Vissel Kobe, Messi said: “The truth is that I feel very good compared to a few days ago. And depending on how that (training) goes.
“And if I’m honest, I still don’t know if I will be able to or not. But I feel much better and I really want to be able to do it.”