The 2022 World Cup winner, who is suffering from a pulled hamstring, remained on the bench throughout Miami's 4-1 win over a Hong Kong side. His absence aroused the anger of the 38,323 spectators who had paid at least 125 dollars (115 euros), and often much more, to see their hero on the field.
Midway through the second half, chants of "We want Messi" rose up in the stadium from fans desperate not to see the eight-time Ballon d'Or in action. The boos intensified in the last ten minutes of the match, when it became clear that the 36-year-old Argentine would not make a single appearance.
The public was also disappointed by the fact that former Liverpool and FC Barcelona striker Luis Suarez also did not come into play due to a knee injury. The Spaniards Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba appeared in the 62nd minute. But the boos crescendoed at the final whistle.
Beckham, co-owner of the Miami club, was drowned out by screams when he tried to thank the crowd "for their incredible support", as fans showed their anger with thumbs-down gestures.
“We understand the fans' disappointment due to the absence of Leo (Messi) and Luis Suarez,” Miami coach Gerardo Martino told reporters, explaining that the club's medical team had made the decision. the same day of the match. “We would have liked to play Leo and Luis at least for a moment, but the risk was too great,” explained the former Argentina coach.
Messi played just six minutes in Miami's last match in Saudi Arabia on Thursday and he is not sure he will be ready for the new MLS season which begins on February 21. In June 2023, more than 60,000 Indonesian spectators also expressed their dissatisfaction following the idol's withdrawal from a friendly match between Indonesia and Argentina.