Messi and Ronaldo vs Asian Fans: Anger From Hong Kong, South Korea Supporters as Stars Fail to Play

Messi and Ronaldo vs Asian Fans: Anger From Hong Kong, South Korea Supporters as Stars Fail to Play

Joel Reyes
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
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C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo
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  • Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo angered their Asian fans when they didn't play in their exhibition games
  • Ronaldo was supposed to play against a K-League All-Star team in 2019 with Juventus but didn't see action
  • Messi was supposed to see action against Hong Kong Select XI on Sunday with Inter Miami but did not play

Not again! Just like Cristiano Ronaldo in South Korea, Lionel Messi became Public Enemy No. 1 of the fans in Hong Kong after his no-show in an exhibition match on Sunday.

Sports Brief looks at how the two football stars drew the ire of their supporters in the Far East.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, South Korea, Hong Kong, Inter Miami, Juventus
Messi and Ronaldo sit on the bench during Inter Miami and Juventus' exhibition matches in Hong Kong and South Korea. Images: Justin Chin/ JUNG YEON-JE.
Source: Getty Images

Messi vs. Hong Kong fans

Lionel Messi got a hero's welcome on Saturday when he turned up for practice at Hong Kong Stadium ahead of Inter Miami's much-anticipated showdown with a Select XI from Hong Kong.

The Argentine star sent thousands of fans into a frenzy when he appeared on the pitch to do some passing drills with his teammates.

The fans' joy was short-lived, though, as Messi was left out of Inter Miami's lineup on Sunday due to reported inflammation in his adductor.

Fans booed Messi and Inter Miami's co-owner, David Beckham during the match as they realised the football icon would not play, with supporters chanting 'refund' per USA Today.

Hong Kong officials expressed 'extreme disappointment' with Messi's absence in the match, which ended 4-1 in favour of Inter Miami.

To make matters worse for fans who paid huge money to watch the contest, star striker, Luis Suarez also did not play for Inter Miami due to reported knee inflammation.

According to Dimsum Daily, pressure is mounting on organisers, Tatler Asia to give disgruntled fans refunds after Messi's failure to play on Sunday.

Ronaldo vs. South Korea fans

Messi's no-show in Hong Kong comes years after Ronaldo did the same thing in South Korea with former club, Juventus.

The promoters of the exhibition match between the Italian giants and a K-League All-Star team advertised that the Portuguese star would play for at least 45 minutes in that contest.

Fans were outraged when Ronaldo stayed on the bench and didn't play even a single minute against the Korean lineup in their showdown in July 2019.

Coach, Mauricio Sarri explained after the match that Ronaldo was suffering from muscle fatigue following Juventus' exhibition game in China two days earlier.

That explanation didn't sit well with Korean fans and officials, who blasted Ronaldo and Juventus for their 'deception' as the Portuguese star was named on the substitutes' bench for that encounter.

Some fans took the promoters of the event to court following the Ronaldo no-show and won compensation. A court in Incheon ordered The Fasta back in 2020 to pay $465 each to the two supporters, per Sports Illustrated.

Thousands watch Messi's Hong Kong training

Sports Brief also previously reported on Messi's training session in Hong Kong.

Around 40,000 people packed the Hong Kong Stadium to watch him in action.

The Herons jetted out to Hong Kong after losing 6-0 to Ronaldo's Al-Nassr.

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Joel Reyes
Joel Reyes is a sports editor at with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. He has eight years of work experience in sports writing.