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Lionel Messi loses friends when charity game in L.A. is canceled

An upcoming event at the Coliseum featuring Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi was abruptly canceled Tuesday.
(Raul Arboleda / Getty Images)

The event was billed as Messi and Friends. But the Argentine soccer great didn’t make many of those in the lead-up to his scheduled charity game Wednesday at the Coliseum.

The match, one in a series of games involving Lionel Messi and more than a dozen top international stars, was canceled Tuesday, about 26 hours before kickoff. And that gave way to a blistering attack from Ralina Shaw, the vice-president of public relations for El Padrino Spirits, one of the event sponsors.

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A release from Shaw’s public relations firm said the game was canceled when Messi chose not to participate. Messi, who was scheduled to play a charity game Tuesday night in Peru, could not be reached for comment.

“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.”

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The match appeared to be on shaky ground from the moment it was announced. Promoters held one news conference and did little publicity or community outreach despite the fact tickets had a face value of up to $300 and the game was scheduled during the busiest week of the soccer calendar in Southern California, one featuring visits by five national teams, including the U.S. and Mexico, two Mexican club teams and an Independence Day game with the MLS  champion Galaxy.

Messi, it appears, did even less work promoting the game.

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“After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi’s management team to fulfill their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles, it is clear they have no respect for these fans and this market,” Todd Graham, CEO of El Padrino, said in a statement.

Ticket purchasers seeking refunds are asked to contact Ticketmaster.com

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