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Lionel Messi Fans to Receive 50% Refund for Missed Hong Kong Match

Hong Kong Stadium organizers have announced that Lionel Messi’s fans who purchased tickets for a friendly match he ultimately skipped will receive a 50% refund. The decision comes after Messi’s absence from the February game, citing an injury, left Chinese fans disappointed for weeks.

To qualify for the refund, ticketholders must agree not to pursue legal action, as reported by Tatler Asia. The publication estimated that the refunds could total up to HK$56 million (£5.6 million; $7.1 million).

Fans had eagerly paid up to HK$4,880 each to witness the 36-year-old Argentine football legend in action, but Messi remained on the bench throughout the match. The sold-out Hong Kong Stadium, filled with 38,000 spectators, erupted into boos at the end of the game, with many demanding refunds.

Tatler Asia reported that they were only informed of Lionel Messi’s absence at halftime during the match, and they promptly notified the government about the situation.

Hong Kong authorities stated that they urged Messi to consider alternative solutions, such as making an appearance on the field to engage with fans, but their requests were unsuccessful.

Following his absence in Hong Kong, Messi played in Japan a few days later, citing a “swollen and painful” groin injury as the reason for his non-participation.

However, this explanation did little to appease his fans, and it fueled conspiracy theories. State media outlet Global Times accused Messi and his club, Inter Miami, of having “political motives” aimed at “embarrassing” Hong Kong.

In response, Messi refuted these allegations, emphasizing his “special affection” for the people of China.

The backlash against Messi persisted for weeks and resulted in Chinese officials canceling two Argentine friendlies scheduled to take place in the country later that month.

This turn of events sharply contrasted with the warm reception Messi received in June of the previous year when Argentina played Australia in a friendly match at Beijing’s Worker’s Stadium.

Tatler Asia revealed that individuals requesting refunds for the Lionel Messi event would need to adhere to specific terms, including refraining from initiating legal action in any court or regulatory body.

Facing criticism for its management of the event, Tatler Asia also decided to retract its request for a HK$16 million government grant.

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