Lionel Messi No-Show: In a turn of events that rocked the football world, Lionel Messi’s absence from Inter Miami’s game in Hong Kong has prompted the organizer to announce substantial refunds totaling $7.2 million for disgruntled ticket holders. The decision comes after spectators voiced their discontent when the iconic Argentine player failed to take the field during the highly anticipated match.
Tatler Asia, the organizing entity, faced sharp criticism from city officials following the debacle, with the city’s leader expressing disappointment over the handling of the situation. In a public statement issued on Friday, Tatler Asia extended apologies to fans and pointed fingers at Inter Miami for the unfortunate turn of events. Ticket prices for the event soared as high as HK$4,880 ($624), attracting a sizable crowd of approximately 38,000 attendees.
Under mounting pressure to address the grievances of disappointed fans, Tatler Asia announced a 50% refund scheme, aiming to assuage the frustrations stemming from Messi’s absence. This move follows the organizer’s earlier decision to forfeit HK$16 million in government funding in the wake of the controversy. Notably, Inter Miami counts former football legend David Beckham among its co-owners.
“We invested significant effort to deliver a world-class football spectacle to Hong Kong, only to be let down, along with our loyal fans,” lamented Tatler Asia in its official statement, decrying what it perceived as a lack of regard for the audience by Inter Miami.
The financial repercussions for Tatler Asia are stark, with the luxury lifestyle brand anticipating a staggering loss of HK$43 million from the event, a far cry from the projected profit of HK$13 million.
Acknowledging the gesture, Hong Kong’s government welcomed the refund while reiterating its call for Inter Miami to elucidate the circumstances surrounding Messi’s subsequent participation in a match in Japan, mere days after his absence in Hong Kong due to alleged injury.
Meanwhile, Messi’s perceived snub has reverberated beyond Hong Kong, sparking outrage in mainland China ahead of the Argentine football team’s upcoming fixtures. The Global Times, a nationalist publication, condemned Messi’s silence and warned of broader ramifications transcending the realm of sports.
In response to the backlash, prominent figures in China, including Hu Xijin, have predicted a decline in Messi’s commercial appeal, anticipating a reluctance among businesses to associate with the embattled footballer.
In a bid to address the controversy, Messi took to social media platform Weibo to express regret over his inability to participate in the Hong Kong match, citing an injury to his adductor muscles. Inter Miami echoed Messi’s sentiments, issuing apologies for the absence of both Messi and teammate Luis Suárez while emphasizing the unpredictable nature of injuries in football.
Inter Miami, backed by Beckham and billionaire Jorge Mas, has rapidly ascended the ranks since its inception in 2018, with Messi’s high-profile signing further bolstering its stature within the Major League Soccer landscape. The club’s trajectory toward a purported valuation of $1.5 billion underscores its burgeoning influence in the global football arena.