Govt sought remedies over sit-out

February 5, 2024

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Secretary for Culture, Sports & Tourism Kevin Yeung said today that the Government repeatedly liaised with Tatler Asia on Lionel Messi’s participation in the football match between the Hong Kong team and Inter Miami CF yesterday, and had sought remedies after the Argentinian player sat out the match.


Stressing that the Government, in common with many football fans, was deeply disappointed with yesterday’s turn of events, Mr Yeung said: “One of the key terms of our funding agreement with Tatler Asia was for Messi to participate in the match for at least 45 minutes, subject to fitness and safety considerations.”


The event, named Tatler XFEST Hong Kong and organised by Tatler Asia, was awarded “M” Mark status by the Major Sports Events Committee, which also provided a matching grant of $15 million and a further grant of $1 million for the venue.


Mr Yeung also told reporters that before the match began Tatler Asia reaffirmed to the Government that Messi would play in the second half.


“When the second half began without Messi, we immediately followed up with the organiser, Tatler Asia, requesting them to liaise with Inter Miami CF to arrange for Messi to play as soon as possible, but we were later informed by Tatler Asia that Messi could not play due to injury.”


About 10 minutes before the match ended, the organiser finally confirmed that Messi would not be playing in it.


“We therefore immediately requested for them to explore other remedies, such as Messi appearing on the field to interact with his fans, and receiving the trophy.


“Unfortunately, as you all saw, this did not work out.”


He added that Tatler Asia should explain to the public the details of what had occurred.


Looking forward, he said the Government will work with the Major Sports Events Committee to enhance the “M” Mark system, and persist in its efforts to enable more major events to be held in Hong Kong.

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