Tatler Asia says it will partially refund tickets to Hong Kong after backlash from Lionel Messi

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Tatler Asia said it will partially refund money to ticket holders for a friendly match between a Hong Kong team and Inter Miami, after Lionel Messi’s failure to attend due to injury prompted a furious backlash from fans. fans, the Hong Kong government and Chinese state media.

The luxury lifestyle publication, which organized the event, said 50% refunds would cost up to HK$56 million ($7 million). It is estimated that he would have lost up to HK$43 million in the event. The company had expected to make a profit of HK$13 million.

Tatler Asia, which was bought by Swiss family firm Edipresse two decades ago, said it was “heartbroken” that Messi did not play and had “begged” Inter Miami to urge the Argentine star to explain to the spectators because he could not play. The fact that Messi played days later in Tokyo “seems like another slap in the face”, he said.

“We invested our blood and sweat to bring a world-class football match to Hong Kong and we were disappointed along with all of you,” he said. A spokesperson for the Tatler Asia Inter Miami event said the publication had no connection to Tatler UK.

The announcement followed an official and public backlash in Hong Kong, with officials and lawmakers criticizing the event after Messi did not play. Photos of the Argentine footballer were the focus of marketing material for the event, which occupied prominent billboards in the city center for weeks, and fans paid up to HK$4,880 for a ticket.

The government hoped the high-profile event would boost its international image and economic fortunes. The decision by pop superstars Taylor Swift and Coldplay to skip Hong Kong in favor of rival Asian destinations such as Tokyo and Singapore has become a sore point. Last month, before the match against Inter Miami, lawmakers were discussing how to bring the city’s high-profile stars back to the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s parliament.

“Our aspiration was to create an iconic moment in support of the government’s efforts to remind the world how relevant and exciting Hong Kong is. That dream is shattered today for us and for all those who bought tickets to see Messi on the pitch,” Tatler Asia added. The company this week withdrew its application for HK$16 million in public funding after Messi did not play in the soccer match.

The Hong Kong government welcomed the decision. “Tatler Asia’s compensation plan is a responsible move that shows that it is willing to actively take responsibility,” it said in a statement.

Inter Miami said in a statement that it was “sorry” for the no-show of Messi and Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez, who also did not play in Hong Kong. The team said both players were injured.

“Unfortunately, injuries are part of the beautiful game and the health of our players must always take priority,” it read.

The controversy spread to the mainland after Chinese state tabloids and Internet commentators criticized Messi for playing in Japan for half an hour just days after the match in Hong Kong. Messi apologized on his official account on Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong Consumer Council said it had received 1,178 complaints during the match, involving more than HK$8 million in funds as of Thursday evening.

Rachel Chan, who paid HK$2,328 for her match ticket, said the refund was “better late than never” but that “this late refund pales in comparison to the disappointment.”

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