AP

Lionel Messi’s global tour with Inter Miami has been very messy and a PR nightmare

Feb 5, 2024, 2:30 PM

FILE - Inter Miami's Lionel Messi, center, looks on after the first half of the friendly football m...

FILE - Inter Miami's Lionel Messi, center, looks on after the first half of the friendly football match between Hong Kong Team and US Inter Miami CF at the Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Inter Miami's global tour of exhibition games, thought they are about promotion and marketing, hope to build a new brand by using stars like Messi and Uruguayan Luis Suarez. Instead, the tour is getting mostly bad PR and results that have not been much better. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte, File)

(AP Photo/Louise Delmotte, File)

TOKYO (AP) — It’s all been very messy.

We’re talking about Lionel Messi and Inter Miami’s global tour of exhibition games where the main show has been Argentina’s 2022 World Cup-winning captain.

The matches are about promotion and marketing, hoping to build a new brand by using stars like Messi and Uruguayan Luis Suarez. Instead, the tour is getting mostly bad PR, and results that have not been much better in matches that have stretched from El Salvador, through Dallas, into Saudi Arabia, and then Hong Kong on Sunday.

The next stop is Tokyo’s National Stadium on Wednesday against Vissel Kobe, and a wrap-up match on Feb. 16 in Florida against Newell’s Old Boys — Messi’s boyhood club in Argentina, and the club that might be his final destination before retiring.

Through five games, Inter Miami has been outscored 12-7 and won only once. And that was Sunday in Hong Kong, where a 4-1 victory over the local team was overshadowed by angry fans holding up signs demanding a refund and booing since neither Messi nor Suarez played — both out injured and aging.

Messi is 36 and Suarez is 37, and both are more and more subject to nagging injuries.

“The marketing hype in promoting the event to global fans creates high expectations, coupled with government subsidy of the event,” John Grady, a sports law professor at the University of South Carolina, told The Associated Press. “This also raises the expectations that marquee players will appear as advertised.”

Even though fans know the games are for practice, and meaningless in the standings, they still choose to pay high prices and attend. As the phrase goes in Latin — caveat emptor, or “let the buyer beware.”

“As more football teams recruit elite talent with large followings, including on social media, it creates a situation where non-appearance causes fan outrage and results in a public relations headaches,” Grady added.

Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino apologized for Messi’s absence after Sunday’s Hong Kong match. Fans who saw practice on Saturday at least saw the Argentina captain in a kick-around, with Miami co-owner David Beckham also on the field.

“We understand the disappointment of the fans for the absence of Leo (Messi) and Luis Suarez,” Martino said. “We understand a lot of fans are very disappointed and we ask for their forgiveness. We wish we could have sent Leo and Luis on for at least a while but the risk was too big.”

Messi came on for the last seven minutes in the 6-0 loss at Al-Nassr — one of the two matches in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — as Inter Miami prepares for its MLS season opener on Feb. 22.

It’s anyone’s guess if Messi will play on Wednesday in Japan, and if so, how much. Martino will certainly be under pressure to use him some, but Messi is sure to have the final say.

Inter Miami is to practice on Tuesday on the outskirts of Tokyo with snow in the forecast. Wednesday calls for sunny skies but temperatures at game time around freezing.

___

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

Supreme Court Police officers stand on duty outside of the Supreme Court building on Thursday, June...

MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

The Supreme Court upholds a gun control law intended to protect domestic violence victims

The Supreme Court has upheld a federal gun control law on Friday with intentions to protect domestic violence victims.

2 days ago

A photo taken of Matthew Perry in 2022....

Clayre Scott

Criminal investigation opened in relation to Matthew Perry’s death

A criminal investigation has been opened in relation to Matthew Perry's death due to high levels of ketamine found in his blood.

1 month ago

FILE - The United Nations (UN) headquarters are pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Sept. 9, 2...

EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

U.N. to vote on resolution that would grant Palestine new rights

The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote Friday on a resolution that would grant new "rights and privileges" to Palestine.

1 month ago

President Joe Biden arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport to attend a political fundraise...

ZEKE MILLER and AAMER MADHANI, Associated Press

Biden says US won’t supply weapons for Israel to attack Rafah

Biden said the U.S. was still committed to Israel's defense, but that if Israel goes into Rafah, "we're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used."

2 months ago

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who just testified in the Trump hush money trial....

Associated Press

Adult film star testifies in Trump hush money case

Donald Trump's attorneys have unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial during the testimony of porn actor Stormy Daniels. She was testifying at Trump's hush money criminal trial that she had a sexual encounter with Trump after meeting him at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf outing where her studio was a sponsor.

2 months ago

This photo provided by NASA shows an Eta Aquarid meteor streaking over northern Georgia on April 29...

CHRISTINA LARSON, AP Science Writer

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, debris of Halley’s comet, peaks this weekend. Here’s how to see it

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, remnants of Halley's comet, peaks this weekend.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Lionel Messi’s global tour with Inter Miami has been very messy and a PR nightmare