Inter Miami’s preseason world tour has come to an unexpected early end.

Inter Miami secured their first preseason victory, defeating Hong Kong 4-1, amidst a crowd of 40,000 fans’ boos. Despite the impressive scoreline, fans were disappointed as neither Lionel Messi nor Luis Suarez played in the game.

During the broadcast, MLS Season Pass announcers reported that the team is returning to the USA.

They also said that its next game will be against Newell’s Old Boys in Fort Lauderdale on February 15. Apple removed Inter Miami’s game against Vissel Kobe from its app, initially scheduled for Wednesday.

MLS analyst Devon Kerr was asked about his final thoughts on Inter Miami’s preseason tour across the globe.

“What an amazing opportunity for Inter Miami, MLS and Apple to showcase this league and this team at such a great level on a global platform.” Those words seemed at odds with the chorus of boos in the background.

Robert Taylor put Miami ahead in Hong Kong just five minutes before halftime with a dipping strike from the corner of the penalty box. On the other hand, the hosts, coached by Jørn Andersen, were able to draw level via Henri Anier.

In the first moments of the second half, Miami took the lead again thanks to Lawson Sunderland. After 56 minutes, Leonardo Campana scored to make it 3-1. With only five minutes remaining on the clock, Miami’s Ryan Sailor headed in a field goal.

In Inter Miami’s five games of their preseason world tour, the win against Hong Kong was their first. The team was humiliated in a 6-0 loss to Al Nassr. Before that, they lost against Al-Hilal 4-3, lost 1-0 to Dallas and tied El Salvador 0-0.

What did Hong Kong officials say?

Lionel Messi’s absence from Inter Miami’s sold-out preseason tour game due to injury has drawn disapproval from the Hong Kong authorities.

“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”, they said in a statement.

Due to a strained hamstring, the Argentinian did not participate in the match. However, boos erupted from the crowd in the latter minutes of the game and after the final whistle. Notably, they sold 38,000 tickets in the first hour of their December release.

What did Tata Martino say?

Tata Martina, coach of Inter Miami, justified the choice. He said that they couldn’t risk starting either the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner or Luis Suarez, who had previously played for Barcelona.

“We understand the fans’ disappointment in the absence of Messi and Suarez, and we apologize for that, but this was a decision made with our medical staff,” Martino said post-game after a sold-out crowd of 40,000 flocked to see the Herons.

“If there was a way they could have played even a little while we would have done it, but there was too much risk involved.”

Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire