Los Angeles, Calif. (KTLA) – Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi faced a growing backlash among American fans after he bailed on a charity soccer match a day before it was scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The match, one in a series of games involving Messi and other international stars, was canceled about 26 hours before its Wednesday kickoff.
That prompted a terse attack from Ralina Shaw, vice-president of public relations for El Padrino Spirits, one of the event sponsors.
A release from the p.r. company said the game was canceled when Messi chose not to participate.
“In all the years I’ve been doing live events, I have never encountered a situation like this,” Shaw said. “It’s unfortunate because the only losers in this scenario are the fans that were looking forward to the game.”
Messi took to his Facebook page to explain why he decided not to attend.
“Disappointed by the management of the charity match in Los Angeles,” Messi said in a post on Facebook 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.
Ticket purchasers seeking refunds were asked to contact Ticketmaster.com.