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Fans call for refunds, transparency after Messi no-show at Vancouver match

Online petition garners nearly 2,300 signatures since May 25 game
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi celebrates after his goal against the New York Red Bulls during an MLS soccer match at Red Bull Arena, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

A new petition is making three demands to the Vancouver Whitecaps management after three star players, including Lionel Messi, missed a much-advertised game on May 25.

Started May 24 – two days after the Whitecaps announced Messi and teammates Luis Suárez and Sergio Busquets wouldn’t be attending the game – the online petition has nearly 2,300 signatures as of Wednesday (May 29).

“The use of Messi, Suárez, and Busquets in promotional materials has misled fans into believing they would see these stars play, leading to significantly higher ticket prices,” petition starter and Vancouver resident Rachele Renzi said.

READ MORE: Soccer superstar Messi expected to miss MLS game in Vancouver: Whitecaps

In the Whitecaps announcement on May 23, it said Vancouver Whitecaps FC would be providing all in-stadium food and beverage for the match at 50 per cent off, as well youth under the age of 18 would be provided one free kids meal combo.

However, Renzi said the discount on food and beverages is not sufficient compensation.

“Fans have spent significant amounts of money expecting to see these stars, and the value of the match without them does not justify the current pricing.”

One fan spent more than $1,000 on two tickets for their son’s birthday present, according to a statement on the petition.

“This is my hard earned money that I was willing to pay just for Messi as a one time experience for my son. It would be fair for the club to refund tickets money to their fans if they want to exhibit some fairness. My son has lost all the trust in these clubs which I never wished for him at this age.”

The petition says the use of Messi, Suárez and Busquets in promotional materials misled fans into believing they would see them play, leading to significantly higher ticket prices. Ticket prices, which are usually around $30, ranged from $300 to $600 – something the petition says isn’t justified without the star players.

It adds the 50-per-cent discount on food and drinks wasn’t sufficient compensation, especially for fans that spent “significant amounts of money” expecting to see the players.

With that, Renzi’s petition sets out three demands: refunds, transparency and prevention of this happening again in the future.

It says that fans who purchased tickets with the expectation of seeing Messi, Suárez and Busquets should be offered a refund or substantial partial refund “to reflect the actual value of the game without these players.” It adds that if players cannot be guaranteed, then prices should remain similar to typical rates.

The petition calls on transparency from the Whitecaps, ensuring clear and honest communication about player participation in future promotions to avoid misleading fans.

It also calls for a prevention of future similar occurences by implementing policies.

More than 50,000 people were expected at last Saturday’s game after it was announced in December that Vancouver was set to host Inter Miami.

– With files from The Canadian Press

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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