Inter Miami and the Controversy on Asian Soil

The Unusual Decision by Inter Miami in the Friendly Match in Hong Kong Triggers Discontent and Jeopardizes Millions of Euros in Investment
Hong Kong Team v Inter Miami - Preseason Friendly
Hong Kong Team v Inter Miami - Preseason Friendly / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Soccer, at times, transcends the four lines of the field and becomes the protagonist of episodes that go beyond simple sports spectacle. Recently, the North American team Inter Miami found itself at the center of an international controversy by opting not to field Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez in a friendly match in Hong Kong. The result? Inflammatory criticism from the Hong Kong government and a threat to withdraw a substantial investment of 1.9 million euros, previously provided as public financing.

Last Sunday, the eyes of the world turned to the clash between Inter Miami and a local selection in Hong Kong. The anticipation was focused on the South American stars Messi and Suárez, who surprisingly remained on the bench throughout the game. The announcement of their absences before the kickoff was a harbinger of an unusual situation that would trigger a series of repercussions.

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The Hong Kong government, through official statements, expressed its discontent, labeling Inter Miami's decision as "extremely disappointing." The criticism extended not only to the North American club but also to the event organizer, Tatler Asia, a publication specializing in fashion and luxury lifestyle. Kevin Yeung, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism of Hong Kong, revealed that the organizer assured Messi would enter the field in the second half, a promise that did not materialize.

The outcome of this football clash transcended the four lines when the local government tried to negotiate with the event organizers, an impasse that persisted until ten minutes before the end of the match. The frustration was not limited to the officials; the more than 38 thousand spectators present also saw their expectations dashed as they witnessed Messi and Suárez remaining on the sidelines.

Noah Allen
Hong Kong Team v Inter Miami - Preseason Friendly / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The threat from the Hong Kong government to withdraw the 1.9 million euros investment, initially intended for the public financing of the event, echoes as a serious warning. The financial impact, if realized, would not only affect the organizer Tatler Asia but also reverberate in Inter Miami itself, which is on its first international preseason tour in history.

The results of the North American team on the tour have been, at the very least, inconsistent. With only one victory in six friendly matches, including a resounding 6-0 defeat to Al-Nassr, Inter Miami seeks affirmation on the international stage. However, the controversy in Hong Kong adds an unexpected layer of challenge, with the Hong Kong government now considering the withdrawal of the projected financial incentive.

The conflict does not end within Hong Kong's borders. Inter Miami, on its international agenda, will face two crucial friendlies before the start of the Major League Soccer season. The match against Vissel Kobe at the National Stadium of Japan in Tokyo will be closely watched, not only for its sports relevance but also for the repercussions recent events have generated.

The saga of Inter Miami on Hong Kong soil has become a unique chapter. The expectation now revolves around the actions of the Hong Kong government and the sports community in the face of this controversy, while the world awaits to see how the North American club responds to this unexpected storm off the soccer field.