Time to move on from Messi’s no-show in Hong Kong, says NPC deputy
Published: Mar 08, 2024 03:59 AM
Kenneth Fok Kai-kong during an interview on the sidelines of China's ongoing annual two sessions, on March 6, 2024

Kenneth Fok Kai-kong during an interview on the sidelines of China's ongoing annual two sessions, on March 6, 2024

Following Lionel Messi’s controversial absence from a recent Hong Kong friendly game, Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, a member of the National People's Congress and Hong Kong Legislative Council, said in an interview during the two sessions on Wednesday that he hoped to keep looking forward and that there are many world-class athletes who have a good feeling about Hong Kong.

On February 4, in a highly anticipated friendly match between team Hong Kong and Inter Miami, more than 40,000 fans flocked to the stadium, most of them eager to see Lionel Messi. However, Messi did not take to the field in the match and bypassed guests including Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR John Lee Ka-chiu in the post-match session, which aroused the discontent of Chinese fans.

After the controversy, Fok expressed his views on the "Messi incident" on social media, saying that Messi did not show respect for the Hong Kong fans or the organizers. He also said Inter Miami should apologize to the people of Hong Kong and give a reasonable expatiation.

Messi offered a response twice on Weibo. In a video posted on February 19, he said his absence from the game was due to inflammation of his adductor muscle, and that his appearance in subsequent friendly games in Japan were due to the easing of the injury. He also said he hoped to return to China one day in the future.

Fok addressed the issue again during the two sessions, and said that the storm has become a passing cloud. "The Year of the Rabbit has passed, the Year of the Dragon has come. I hope we should be holding the mentality of looking forward," Fok said.

He also said that Hong Kong has been inviting various world-class stars and athletes who love the city very much. The Hong Kong Lunar New Year Cup soccer tournament held on February 13 saw the arrival of 17 top-class players, which attracted tens of thousands of Hong Kong people and brought a sensational and inspiring sports event to Hong Kong.

"There is no substitute for Hong Kong's uniqueness, which is why the Hong Kong government is also committed to promoting the Mega Event Economy," said Fok, adding that with the support of the Greater Bay Area, "we can explore more possibilities."