Tatler Asia, the organisers of the controversial Inter Miami-Hong Kong XI match at which star player Lionel Messi and his teammate Luis Suárez did not play on Sunday, have reassured ticket holders that they will get a 50% refund. The organisers also expressed disappointment over Messi and Luis Suárez playing in their match in Tokyo later in the week, saying it felt like “another slap in the face” to Hong Kong fans.

In an Instagram post on Friday, Tatler Asia explained that four players — Messi, Suárez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets — were contractually obliged to play in the game for at least 45 minutes unless they were injured. It turned out that Messi and Suárez needed to sit the match out as they were deemed medically unfit. “When we learned that Messi would not be playing, we pleaded with Inter Miami CF ownership and management to urge him to stand up, engage with the spectators and explain why he couldn’t play. He didn’t,” said Tatler officials.

Tatler Asia revealed they have been working with the government and the Consumer Council to resolve the issue: “We will not escape our responsibility as organisers and that is why Tatler Asia will offer all those who purchased match-day tickets from the official channels a 50% refund. Details about the refund process will be provided in a separate communication by mid-March.”

Last year, it was revealed that Inter Miami would play in Hong Kong as part of their first international tour, and that tickets would cost between HK$880 and HK$4,880. The friendly match in Hong Kong was the first city announced on the American club’s 2024 pre-season tour line-up, and the management later announced that the team would play in El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Australia. The team also had a training session in Hong Kong the day before the scheduled exhibition match, which Messi took part in.

As of Friday afternoon, the Consumer Council has received 1,303 complaints about the match amounting to a total of HK$8,921,161. The biggest complaint involves an amount of HK$82,960. Earlier this week, Tatler Asia withdrew its application for HK$16 million in funds from the government for the match, and Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said that the government is working to create backup plans so that the public gets all the information they need before they attend future big-ticket events.

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Messi addressed the Hong Kong controversy at a press conference in Japan, calling it “bad luck” that he could not join his team members on the pitch and adding that he hoped to be able to return to the city to play here. Inter Miami has also apologised for Messi’s absence from the Hong Kong match. “Despite our best intentions, we understand there has been disappointment over the absence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez in Sunday’s match and we are sorry that the two players could not participate,” the club said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Image credits: @WeAreMessi via X

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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