Lionel Messi absence leaves MLS fans frustrated in sell out clash
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Lionel Messi absence leaves MLS fans frustrated in sell out clash

27/05/24 14:01

The eight-time Ballon D’or winner was a notable absentee as Inter Miami took on the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place in Canada.

Over 50,000 tickets were sold with many purchasing expensive passes in the hope of catching a glimpse of one of the best players of all time. Ticket prices soared in anticipation for Messi's appearance but quickly plummeted once news spread of his omission.

Fans were left disappointed as star trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Sergio Busquets did not travel with the squad. Inter Miami boss Tata Martino explained their absence by stating his desire to rest his ageing stars, all of which are 35 or older.

This decision did not sit well with fans who vocalised their anger by altering Inter Miami jerseys with Messi’s name printed on the back. One fan was seen to have modified his jersey with tape and marker pen so that it read ‘No Messi Around’ while another simply read ‘Missing’.

Rumours spread of the World Cup winner’s omission before the match with the possibility of protests being discussed, while this didn’t materialise chants of ‘Where is Messi? resonated around the stadium.

One disgruntled supporter created a sign which read ‘No Messi, priceless’ pointing out that he had spent almost $5000 dollars to watch the Argentine superstar.

Following his sides 2-1 victory Martino was in a defiant mood but apologised to fans regardless commenting: “Obviously it is very important for us because of the absences we had.”

“The expectation that people have. I really don’t think I have to apologise, but in some ways, we are very sorry for not being able to travel with our stars.”

Defending his actions he added that it is impossible to announce squads in advance saying “We understand the people's frustration, especially in wanting to see these players, but it is our job as the coaching staff to make these decisions that are uncomfortable.”

“We understand what these players provoke in the league and other markets, but we must take these measures that are sometimes unpleasant for people. But they are beneficial for the players,' the manager continued”.

“We can't announce with 20 days' notice what our movements will be. We analysed the situation on Thursday because we have three games in a week, but sometimes unfortunate things happen that don't allow for players to participate in a certain match.”

To the annoyance of fans, Messi and Suarez remained in Florida attending the Youth International Cup. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Messi addressed the crowd, expressing the sacrifices parents make to support their children.

This is not the first-time notable omissions have angered fans, in a statement Major League Soccer said, “it acknowledges fan disappointment when marquee players are unavailable for matches.”

Each MLS club makes its own personnel and competitive decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the club and each player.” “The league will continue to review measures regarding how clubs report player availability.”

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Lewis Carr

Football Writer

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