The drama from Messi and his lack of appearance in a Hong Kong friendly has now led to the star releasing a video on social media. Messi, who is always reserved and avoids the media, spoke about how he has spent ample time playing games in China. He said the video was necessary because he wanted people to stop reading false stories as to why he did not play.

Messi was certainly the highlight of Inter Miami playing a friendly against a combined XI from clubs in Hong Kong. Despite Inter Miami defeating the Hong Kong team, Messi did not feature. Fans voiced their frustrations and even went so far as to demand refunds for not being able to see Messi. Consequently, the promoter of the friendly, Tatler Asia, issued partial refunds to patrons. Tatler ended up losing over $7 million bringing Messi to Hong Kong for this friendly. This is even though some fans paid upwards of $600 to get into the game against Inter Miami.

“When we learned that Messi would not be playing, we pleaded with Inter Miami CF ownership and management to urge him to stand up, engage with the spectators and explain why he couldn’t play,” Tatler said. “He didn’t. The fact that Messi and (Luis) Suarez played in Japan on February 7th feels like another slap in the face.”

Messi posts video defending Hong Kong absence

Now, Messi is putting any rumors of political or personal reasons to rest. He assured fans that he was dealing with a slight knock that he did not want to aggravate ahead of the 2024 MLS season.

“I had an inflamed adductor, and I couldn’t play in the first game in Saudi Arabia, which is when I felt it,” Messi said in the video. “In the second game [in Saudi Arabia], I tried to play for a bit, but it got worse. Then, on the day before the match [in Hong Kong], I tried to train and made an effort for all those who’d come to watch training. I did all I could.”

Messi went on to defend himself further, saying he went to the training clinics for children. Still, he could not risk worsening his injury, which prevented him from playing in those sessions. Eventually, the severity of the injury subsided, which allowed him to play for the last 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe. The Argentine said he needed to play to work on his fitness levels, which is the main reason for preseason friendlies for any club.

First matchweek of the season for Inter Miami

After all the issues and struggles with Inter Miami’s grand preseason tour, the Florida club is ready to put that all behind it with the beginning of the 2024 MLS season. On Wednesday, Inter Miami hosts Real Salt Lake in the first game of the MLS schedule. Then, on Saturday, Inter Miami is in action again when it travels west to LA Galaxy. If anything, the drama surrounding Inter Miami’s preseason tour may be a precursor to what is coming in the MLS season.