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Organiser of Hong Kong Inter Miami fixture offers refunds after Lionel Messi no-show

Organiser of Hong Kong Inter Miami fixture offers refunds after Lionel Messi no-show
February 9, 2024

Tatler Asia, the organiser of the Hong Kong fixture featuring Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF and a local XI last weekend, has advised that it will issues partial refunds to ticketholders unhappy that superstar player Lionel Messi did not take the field.

The organiser of the much-hyped game, which was intended to showcase the World Cup winner during Inter Miami’s pre-season tour has said it will offer a 50% refund to those who purchased tickets through “official channels”.

In a statement, Tatler Asia advised “we apologise to all those who were disappointed by the football match between the Hong Kong Team and Inter Miami CF on Sunday, February 4.

“An event that we had hoped to be the pride of the city, and which we have worked very hard on for months, has become the source of great heartbreak.”

Messi’s failure to take to the field during the game angered local fans and prompted a rebuke from the Hong Kong Government.

With Tatler Asia claiming that the refund could cost it HK$56 million (US$7 million), resulting in it making a loss of HK$43 million (US$5.5 million), it made the decision following a meeting with Hong Kong Government authorities.

Messi had been left on the substitutesbench, due to a muscle discomfort, for the match at the Hong Kong Stadium in front of more than 38,000 disgruntled fans, many of whom booed from the stands when they became aware that Messi would not toake to the field.

Following the game the Hong Kong Consumer Council advised that had received more than 1,000 complaints while Chinese state-run news agency Global Times claimed that there were “political motives” and “external forces deliberately (seeking) to embarrass Hong Kong”.

It went on to say that the impact of the controversy surrounding the football star “has far exceeded the realm of sports”.

Fans were further angered by Messi taking to the field to play 30 minutes against Japanese side Vissel Kobe in Tokyo in Inter Miami’s last exhibition match of its tour on Wednesday.

The match in Japan wrapped up Inter Miami’s global pre-season tour - stretching from El Salvador to Dallas into Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong and ending in Tokyo.

In an Instagram post on Friday, Tatler Asia apologised to those who were disappointed by the match and said it was upset by “the seeming lack of respect shown to the crowd”.

It reiterated it had pleaded with Inter Miami’s management to urge Messi to explain to the spectators why he would not be playing. Under their contract, the football star was required to play for 45 minutes unless injured.

Tickets for the game cost up to €578 each. In its statement, Tatler Asia said it would refund €6.6 million in total, resulting in a loss of €5.1 million.

The match in Japan wrapped up Inter Miami’s global promotional tour - stretching from El Salvador to Dallas into Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong and ending in Tokyo.

Image: Hong Kong Stadium, venue for last Sunday's Hong Kong XI v Inter Miami fixture. Credit: Shutterstock.

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