Crowd at China's Workers' Stadium Gripped by Messi Mania

Messi sat out the Hong Kong match due to an injured adductor muscle, despite accusations from Global Times of political motives. In a Weibo video, Messi refuted claims of political reasons, expressing his love for China and explaining his physical inability to play. While some remain sceptical, many supporters express gratitude for Messi's contributions to China.

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At the Hong Kong Stadium, 38,000 fans expressed their discontent by booing and demanding refunds after David Beckham's speech, having paid up to HK$4,880 to watch Messi. Match organizers Tatler Asia promised a 50% refund to the disappointed attendees. Chief Executive John Lee and other officials, including lawmaker Regina Ip, voiced their disappointment and demanded an explanation for Messi's absence, attributing it to a deliberate snub.

In contrast, just last year, Messi received a warm welcome in Beijing during a friendly match against Australia, where 68,000 fans eagerly paid up to $680 to watch him play. Messi's popularity extends beyond the pitch, as he serves as a spokesperson for several prominent Chinese brands, including Huawei, Chery, Tencent, Mengniu, Chishui River Wine, and J&T Express.