Soccer superstar Lionel Messi to miss Saturday match vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Click to play video: '‘It’s a gut punch:’  Whitecaps announce Messi will not play in Vancouver'
‘It’s a gut punch:’ Whitecaps announce Messi will not play in Vancouver
A statement from Whitecaps that's going to upset a lot of soccer fans. Squire Barnes has an update on what was supposed to be Lionel Messi's appearance with Inter Miami CF at BC Place this weekend – May 23, 2024

Vancouver will play host to thousands of disappointed fans on Saturday after it was revealed global soccer superstar Lionel Messi won’t play when Inter Miami takes the field against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The two teams are scheduled to face off in front of a record-breaking crowd for a regular season MLS match at BC Place.

It will be the first time the two teams square off, and excitement was high for B.C. fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the Argentinian forward. The Whitecaps sold an estimated 50,000 tickets for the event, with prices starting at $329 and climbing fast from there.

Click to play video: 'Lionel Messi skipping Vancouver game Saturday'
Lionel Messi skipping Vancouver game Saturday

“While we haven’t received an official update on the availability of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Sergio Busquets for this weekend, we understand they will not make this trip,” Whitecaps FC CEO Axel Schuster said in a statement.

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“Unfortunately, we have no control over who plays for our opponent, and it was important for us to communicate to our fans as soon as possible.”

Inter Miami has yet to release a statement on the players, and made no mention of the stars’ absence in a match preview posted shortly before 1 p.m.

Schuster added that the club knew there would be “a lot of disappointed fans,” and remained committed to making the game “a special experience for everyone.”

Click to play video: 'Lionel Messi mania in Montreal'
Lionel Messi mania in Montreal

Despite the absence of the Miami star players, the Whitecaps still intend to stage a large street party and will offer in-stadium food and beverages at half price.

Messi made his first professional visit to Canada earlier in May when Inter Miami played CF Montreal. That match also drew complaints about expensive tickets, with prices starting at north of $300.

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Messi — widely considered one of the greatest players of all time — took the North American soccer scene by storm when he left Europe to join Miami last year, filling stadiums despite the astronomical prices wherever he went.

— with a file from the Canadian Press

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