Messi-China Feud

Lionel Messi was set to play in a friendly game between Hong Kong and Inter Miami. The eight-time Balon d’Or winner finds himself in a “Messi-China” feud as he failed to participate in the game due to a groin injury.


  • Messi’s absence in the Hong Kong game could have a political motive, according to 48.6%.
  • 71.28% of the respondents believe a refund for the match’s tickets is necessary.
  • 59.46% agree with China’s decision to cancel Argentina’s upcoming friendly game in Bejin.

Survey on the Messi-China Feud

A Real Research survey indicated that 42.5% found it somewhat likely that Messi’s absence was due to a genuine injury, and 41.48% thought it was highly likely that his absence was due to a genuine injury. 11.72% think it is somewhat unlikely that his absence was due to a genuine injury, and 4.30% find it highly unlikely.

Figure 1: Likeliness of Messi’s absence being due to a genuine injury
Figure 1: Likeliness of Messi’s absence being due to a genuine injury

Lionel Messi participated in a match in Tokyo but was absent in a previous match in Hong Kong. This gave way to a “feud” between the player and China. Real Research, an online survey app, indicated that 68.28% were aware of the political theories that emerged as a result of Messi’s selective absence, and 31.72% were not aware.

Messi’s Absence, A Political Motive?  

China’s state-controlled Global Times media said Messi’s appearance in Japan posed many questions regarding the player’s differential treatment toward China. The Hong Kong match was the only one where the player was absent. 48.6% definitely believe Messi’s absence could have had a political motive. 37.86% think it could have possibly had a political motive, and 11.04% think it possibly did not. 2.50% definitely do not think so.

Figure 2: Possibility of Messi’s absence having a political motive.
Figure 2: Possibility of Messi’s absence having a political motive.

Furthermore, Hong Kong’s government said in a statement, “Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the government, as well as football fans, are extremely disappointed about the arrangement. The organizers owe all football fans an apology.

54.84% think the disappointment is highly justified, and 35.14% believe it is somewhat justified. 7.16% think it is somewhat unjustified. 2.86% think it is highly unjustified.

Organizers to Give Refunds?

The Messi-China feud has escalated to the point where angry fans are calling for refunds, saying they attended the match with the expectation that Messi would be playing. The organizers have promised a 50% refund. 71.28% think the organizers owe the infuriated fans a refund, and 28.72% do not think so.

Figure 3: Percentage of people who agree with the organizer's refund gesture
Figure 3: Percentage of people who agree with the organizer’s refund gesture

The Messi-China feud is still ongoing, as Argentina’s football team was set to travel to China for two friendlies against Nigeria and Ivory Coast in March. However, the Bejing Football Association called off the match in light of recent controversies. 59.46% think the match should have been canceled, and 40.54% don’t think so.


Survey TitleSurvey on the Messi-China Feud
DurationFeb 19 – Feb 26, 2024
Number of Participants5,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.