Soccer star Lionel Messi wasn't the only one left disappointed when a dispute with promoters led to the cancellation of his charity exhibition scheduled for Wednesday night at the Coliseum.
Among the approximately 20,000 ticket holders left high and dry were four young Canadian fans -- Connor MacMillan, 19; Meekaylae Renaerts, 21; Dawson Lindahl, 20; and Jordie Leib, 20 -- who spent $4,000 to travel from British Columbia, Canada, to Los Angeles to see a game that was never played.
The four learned the match had been canceled a day after driving to Seattle and flying to Southern California. Still they put on their FC Barcelona jerseys -- that's the team Messi plays for in Spain -- and drove to the Coliseum, where they found other disappointed fans gathering.
According to officials close to the event, money that was to pay for Messi's appearance in Los Angeles was used instead to pay debts incurred by a similar Messi-headlined fundraising game in Medellin, Colombia, last week that drew just 12,000 fans.
The series of exhibitions, known as "Messi and Friends," feature Messi and two rosters of top international players from around the world. Money raised by the tour is supposed to be funneled to children's charities. In addition to Colombia, the tour stopped this week in Lima, Peru, and os to continue on to Chicago on Saturday.
But the Los Angeles stop was canceled about 27 hours before Wednesday's scheduled kickoff after Messi complained of receiving little more than travel money for the Colombia game from promoter Andres Barco. Fearing his foundation wouldn't be paid by Barco in Los Angeles either, Messi announced Tuesday that he would not be coming to California.
"Disappointed by the management of the charity match in Los Angeles," Messi said in a post on his Facebook page Wednesday. "I really wanted to be there and enjoy [it] as I did in Peru and Colombia. This project is made for the fans and that's why I'm very disappointed with the organization.
"A big hug to those who were going to support this cause at L.A. Memorial Coliseum and thank you all for your support."
Fans left with unused Messi tickets can get a discount on admission to the Galaxy's July 7 Major League Soccer match with FC Dallas at StubHub Center. A Galaxy representative said fans can call the general office number, 877-3Galaxy, and say, "I had tickets to the Messi game but I want to see the Galaxy instead."
The discount will not be available for walk-up purchases.
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