Lionel Messi: Fans to Receive 50% Reimbursement for Match Cancellation in Hong Kong

Fans of Lionel Messi in Hong Kong who purchased tickets for a friendly match that he ultimately did not attend will receive a 50% refund, according to the match organiser.

Messi’s absence from the game in February, which he attributed to an injury, left Chinese fans furious for weeks.

Tatler Asia reported that ticketholders seeking refunds are required to agree not to pursue legal action.

According to the publication, the potential cost of the refunds is estimated to be HK$56m (£5.6m; $7.1m).

Despite fans paying up to HK$4,880 each to watch the 36-year-old Argentine footballer, Messi remained on the bench throughout the match.

A crowd of 38,000 spectators expressed their dissatisfaction at the conclusion of the game, voicing their disappointment and requesting refunds.

Tatler Asia was informed about Messi’s absence only at halftime and promptly notified the government.

Hong Kong authorities stated that they had asked Messi to consider alternative options, like engaging with fans on the field, but their request was unsuccessful.

Messi made an appearance in Japan shortly after. He expressed his disappointment at being unable to participate in Hong Kong due to a groin injury that was causing him significant discomfort.

This only intensified the anger of his supporters and fueled speculation. The footballer and his club Inter Miami have been accused by state media outlet Global Times of having ulterior political motives, allegedly aiming to embarrass Hong Kong.

Messi dismissed these allegations, emphasizing his deep fondness for the people of China.

There was a significant amount of criticism directed towards him, which continued for several weeks. As a result, Chinese officials decided to cancel two upcoming Argentine friendlies that were scheduled to be held in the country this month.

In stark contrast to the enthusiastic reception Messi received in June last year, during Argentina’s friendly match against Australia at Beijing’s Worker’s Stadium.

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Tatler Asia has stated that individuals who are seeking refunds will need to agree to specific conditions. These conditions include refraining from taking legal action or filing complaints with any court, tribunal, or regulatory authority.

Criticized for its management of the incident, the organization also decided to retract its request for a HK$16m government grant.

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