By IVES GALARCEP
It was billed as a match featuring Lionel Messi and friends vs. “The Rest of the World”, but an exhibition match featuring Messi set to be played in Los Angeles on Wednesday has been cancelled, and match organizers are blaming Messi.
The exhibition match, set for Wednesday at the LA Coliseum, was announced as cancelled on Tuesday evening, just 24 hours before the LA friendly was to be played, and at the same time that Messi was playing in a similar all-star match in Lima, Peru.
“After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi’s management team to fulfill their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles, it is clear they have no respect for these fans and this market,” said Todd Graham, CEO of El Padrino Spirits, a leading sponsor of the event. “We feel that this is a blatant attempt to defraud American citizens and businesses that sponsored this event.”
Sources tell SBI that approximately 45,000 tickets had been sold for the match in Los Angeles, with promotors advising those who had purchased tickets to seek refunds through TicketMaster.
The match was part of a series of friendlies, known as the Messi & Friends charity tour, featuring Messi and a who’s-who of international soccer stars. On Tuesday, Messi led a team of mostly South American stars against a similar team led by Brazilian star Neymar in Peru, just days after playing a similar match in Colombia.
The tour is scheduled to conclude with a match in Chicago on July 6th at Soldier Field, but sources tell SBI that the Chicago match is also in jeopardy now because match organizers are struggling to come up with the requisite number of players to make the all-star match a reality.
The Chicago match has been promoted as featuring Messi as well as players such as Sergio Aguero, Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski and Americans Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Bradley, but sources tell SBI that promotors have had players pull out, leaving the match in jeopardy unless organizers can find enough players to play the match. As of late Tuesday evening, the Chicago match is still scheduled to be played.
The LA cancellation comes amid problems surrounding the organization of the match. Sources tell SBI that the plan was to have Messi and his cast of all-star friends fly from Peru to Los Angeles on Wednesday, and arrive in Los Angeles just three hours before their scheduled match.
Match promotors are blaming the LA cancellation on Messi though, and not on poor planning or logistics.
“We have no words to express our disappointment and frustration,” said Ines Calderon, marketing director of Adriana’s Insurance, another match sponsor. “As a brand we invested many hours of work and thousands of dollars but most importantly, we put our name next to the events name, and in front of our community. We regret sponsoring this event and hope that the authorities penalize whoever is responsible of this mess.”
It should be noted that Messi has yet to comment on the cancelation, but we would imagine a statement will be forthcoming as word spreads on Wednesday of the sudden cancelation and potential cancelation of the all-star match in Chicago.
What do you think of this development? Were you planning to attend the LA match? Think Messi is to blame, or do you think match promotors are the real culprits?
Share your thoughts below.