Inter Miami’s upcoming friendly against J-League champions Vissel Kobe in Japan on Wednesday will not stream on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, as originally announced. The match was recently removed from the platform. Apple had broadcasted Inter Miami’s previous friendlies against Saudi Pro League sides Al Hilal and Al Nassr as well as a squad of Hong Kong all-stars on Sunday.
Confusion led to speculation that the match against Vissel Kobe had been canceled, however, the game will go on as scheduled without a world broadcast feed. When reached for comment, MLS provided The Athletic with the following statement:
“As with all international matches in Inter Miami CF’s preseason tour, production of the host feed of the match is the responsibility of the promoter. Unfortunately, for the Vissel Kobe match, the local promoters are unable to provide a world feed for distribution in the timeframe required to meet our technical needs, which directly impacts our ability to produce coverage for MLS Season Pass or the MLS website.”
The promoter for the friendly versus Vissel Kobe is NSN, whose website lists former FC Barcelona player Andres Iniesta as a co-founder. Iniesta played 14 seasons with Inter Miami captain Lionel Messi at Barcelona. On Monday, the 39-year-old Iniesta, currently playing in the United Arab Emirates, posted a photo of himself with his family from an airport en route to Japan.
“Thrilled to be able to experience a great game … Looking forward to meeting up with good friends in Tokyo again,” Iniesta wrote.
Messi is a game-time decision for Wednesday’s friendly. He missed the match against the Hong Kong XI due to an adductor issue. After Inter Miami’s 4-1 win, the sold out crowd of 40,000 at the Hong Kong Stadium booed Messi and his teammates. The Hong Kong government issued a statement to express their disappointment.
Lionel Messi no-show prompts boos in Hong Kong, but Inter Miami focus on bigger picture
“Regarding Messi not playing the match today, the Government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organiser’s arrangement. The organiser owes all football fans an explanation,” a Hong Kong government spokesperson said. “The MSEC will take follow-up actions with the organiser according to the terms and conditions, which includes reducing the amount of funding as a result of Messi not playing the match.”
Inter Miami closes out its global preseason tour against Newell’s Old Boys from Argentina on Feb. 15 in Miami and will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass.
(Photo: Thomas Tang/Getty Images)