Fans mock Lionel Messi over Falklands and call him ‘thief’ after Hong Kong no-show | World News

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Chinese football fans have called Lionel Messi a “thief” and mocked him over the Falkland Islands.

The Argentinian star angered supporters when he didn’t play during Inter Miami’s game in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Messi was on the bench due to a groin injury but fans had splashed out on pricey tickets with the expectation of seeing the footballing great.

Hong Kong authorities also criticised the no-show and his appearance during a game in Japan days later irked Chinese fans even more.

Anger on social media in recent days has seen some reportedly bring up the Falkland Islands – over which Argentina still claims sovereignty.

Under a Weibo entry by Argentina’s embassy, one user is said to have posted: “The fact that the islands belong to Britain is beyond doubt. Messi is a thief. All his Ballon d’Or awards were stolen.”

Another said: “The Malvinas Islands are part of the UK.

“They were before, they are now, and of course, they will always be in the future. Your country doesn’t have the capability to take them back either.”

According to The Times, a third added: “I used to support the Argentinian claim to the Malvinas. Today, I solemnly declare that from now on, I will no longer accept that the Malvinas Islands belong to Argentina.”

Lionel Messi spent the entire match in Hong Kong watching from the bench much to the chagrin of local fans. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Messi spent the entire match in Hong Kong watching from the bench. Pic: Reuters

Angry fans demanded a refund after Lionel Messi did not play in a pre-season friendly in Hong Kong. Pic: AP
Image:
Fans are being offered a 50% refund. Pic: AP

Messi also posted on Weibo – the Chinese equivalent to X – in the wake of the PR disaster, saying it was regrettable he couldn’t appear and that he hoped to return to Hong Kong to play.

The fallout continued over the weekend when Argentina’s international friendlies, scheduled for next month in Hangzhou and Beijing, were cancelled.

“Because of the reasons known to all, we’ve learned from supervising authorities that the conditions are immature for the match to go forward,” said Hangzhou’s sport bureau.

Beijing Football Association said it wasn’t planning “for the moment, to organise the match in which Lionel Messi was to participate”.

Inter Miami’s tour of Central and North America, Asia and Saudi Arabia has not gone well.

The team has so far won just one of its six games, with owner David Beckham booed on the pitch in Hong Kong.

Read original article here.

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