The promoter of a highly anticipated exhibition match meant to feature Lionel Messi in Hong Kong announced on Friday that fans would receive a partial refund after facing criticism for Messi’s absence from the game.
Inter Miami issued an apology on Thursday for Messi’s non-participation in the match, explaining that the decision was made at the last minute due to necessity.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or a record eight times, did not appear for the pre-game warm-up in front of 40,000 spectators at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday, as he was under medical evaluation.
The medical team ultimately decided that it was too risky for both him and his teammate Luis Suárez to take part in the game.
Tatler Asia, the event’s organizer, mentioned ongoing discussions with the Hong Kong government to address the situation, with the refund details to be revealed by mid-March.
“Tatler Asia acknowledges its responsibility as the event organizer and will therefore offer a 50% refund to those who bought their tickets through official channels,” the company stated.
Inter Miami explained their intention to make a last-minute decision regarding Messi and Suárez’s participation to maximize the possibility of their playing.
“Despite our good intentions, we realize the disappointment caused by the absence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez from Sunday’s game and regret that they were unable to take part,” Miami conveyed in a statement to Reuters on Thursday.
“We also recognize that the late decision caused frustration among our Hong Kong supporters and the event promoter, Tatler Asia. We do feel it necessary to express that injuries are unfortunately a part of the beautiful game, and our player’s health must always come first.”