As we first shared earlier this month, the fans who paid $2,500 a piece for VIP packages filled with broken promises at a Lionel Messi charity game in Chicago — which included a chance to meet Messi himself that never materialized — continue to fight to get their money back from the organizers responsible. What was supposed to be a once in a lifetime event for Messi fans young and old has turned into a disillusioning and tedious fight for retribution. In the midst of this, there have been a couple of bright spots, though.
After reading our original post, Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman enlisted the club's communications director to track down the 75 people scammed at the Messi game and offer them a "true VIP experience" at a Fire match. Here's the rest of the story from the MLS club's official website:
Through a little help from Dirty Tackle’s Brooks Peck, an introduction was made, and then an invite was extended for those fans to be a guest of Andrew’s for last Saturday’s match against D.C. United. And while not everyone could attend, with some traveling from California, DC, Toronto and even as far as England for the original game, the Fire welcomed 16 fans to Toyota Park that night.
After a quick tour of the Park, a trip on field and even to the locker room, the guests enjoyed the game from the Second Star Club. The 4-1 win over United was the icing on the cake. Many of the fans were truly grateful for the invitation; calling it a “bright spot in all of this drama.”
Though they weren't able to host nine-year-old Hudson and his father, whose impassioned account of their Leo Messi disappointment was originally featured in our previous post, the Fire will welcome them another day. They also have a standing offer for 50 percent off tickets to the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against DC United for anyone with proof of purchase to the Messi and Friends game at Soldier Field (VIP or otherwise).
Meanwhile, another unexpected gift arrived just for Hudson directly from FC Barcelona. A Messi shirt signed to Hudson from "your friend, Leo."
"Dad, next jersey I get, it wont be Messi," said Hudson after the Messi and Friends game. "He is not a hero." Well maybe now they can just be friends.
Soccer video from Yahoo! Sports: