‘Outrageous’: More than 1,300 Whitecaps fans sign petition demanding refund for Messi no-show game

Click to play video: '‘Where is Messi?’: Soccer fans demand compensation after Whitecaps vs. Inter Miami match'
‘Where is Messi?’: Soccer fans demand compensation after Whitecaps vs. Inter Miami match
Lionel Messi's absence disappointed fans as he missed the much-anticipated match between the hometown Whitecaps and Inter Miami at B.C. Place in Vancouver.. As Jeff Semple reports, unhappy fans called for compensation and chanted, 'Where is Messi?' – May 26, 2024

More than 1,300 Whitecaps fans signed a petition calling on the Vancouver soccer team to issue a refund for the match that saw star player Lionel Messi pull out, saying they were deceived and deserve compensation for eye-popping ticket prices.

“The information used for this event is misleading. I spent over $1,000 for two tickets for my son’s 14th birthday present as he would have loved seeing his superstar playing,” Mandeep Grewal of Brampton, Ont., said in a statement accompanying a petition he signed.

“Spent extra for him to truly enjoy the event. I even took a day off to join him for this experience. The amount of money for this event is just outrageous if Messi is attending.

“This is my hard-earned money that I was willing to pay just for Messi as a one-time experience for my son. It would be fair for the club to refund ticket money to their fans if they want to exhibit some fairness.”

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Grewal said his son has lost all the trust in these clubs, and it’s something he never would have wished for.

Click to play video: '‘Where is Messi?’: Soccer fans demand compensation after Whitecaps vs. Inter Miami match'
‘Where is Messi?’: Soccer fans demand compensation after Whitecaps vs. Inter Miami match

A record number of spectators headed to Saturday’s sold-out game between Inter Miami and the Whitecaps which, even without the star player, saw Miami beat the Whitecaps in Vancouver.

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The stadium’s upper bowl was opened to make room for the 55,000 anticipated attendees. Many of those football fans are, like Grewal, expressing outrage about the change of roster that saw Argentine Messi, Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez and Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets not participating as planned.

Miami is currently the top team in Major League Soccer standings.

The Whitecaps offered a free kids meal combo for game attendees younger than 18 and half-price food and beverages for adults at the stadium.

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To those who signed the petition, it’s not nearly enough.

Single-game tickets for the event started at $329, though many fans, like Grewal, shelled out much more than that. Normal Whitecaps ticket prices are usually well under $100.

“The use of Messi, Suárez, and Busquets in promotional materials has misled fans into believing they would see these stars play, leading to significantly higher ticket prices,” said Rachele Renzi, who started the petition.

“A 50 per cent discount on food and beverages is not sufficient compensation. Fans have spent significant amounts of money expecting to see these stars, and the value of the match without them does not justify the current pricing.”

Among other things, fans who signed this petition are asking for a refund or substantial partial refund to reflect the actual value of the game without these players, fair prices for future games, transparency about player participation in future promotions to avoid misleading fans and the implementation of policies to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

“The current situation is not acceptable, and changes must be made to ensure fairness and transparency for all Whitecaps supporters,” Renzi said.

— With files from Simon Little 

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