Leo Messi accused of ‘attempt to defraud American citizens’ as LA charity match is canceled

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

While Lionel Messi played the second match of his international Messi and Friends Tour in Lima, Peru on Tuesday, a scathing press release was sent out announcing the cancellation of the next stop in Los Angeles scheduled for the following night. Yet hours earlier, the Twitter account for the July 3 match set to be held at the LA Memorial Coliseum with proceeds going to the Lionel Messi Foundation repeatedly denied that it would be canceled. (UPDATE: Ticketmaster now lists the match as canceled.)

[Related: Neymar embarrasses Diego Lugano in Leo Messi charity match]

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Here are the over the top quotes from the press release sent out by Ralina Shaw Public Relations on behalf of the event's sponsors:

"In all the years I've been doing live events, I have never encountered a situation like this. It's unfortunate because the only losers in this scenario are the fans that were looking forward to the game, and the City of Los Angeles," said Ralina Shaw - VP of Public Relations, El Padrino Spirits, Inc.

"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. We feel that this is a blatant attempt to defraud American citizens and businesses that sponsored this event," said Todd Graham - CEO, El Padrino Spirits, Inc.

"We have no words to express our disappointment and frustration. As a brand we invested many hours of work and thousands of dollars but most importantly, we put our name next to the events name, and in front of our community. We regret sponsoring this event and hope that the authorities penalize whoever is responsible of this mess. Ines Calderon - Marketing Director, Adriana's Insurance.

Accusations of "defrauding American citizens" probably isn't how Messi wanted to follow up last month's accusations of tax fraud in Spain. But according to the LA Times, there were plenty of signs that the match was a disorganized and unprofessional exhibition in trouble of not going off.

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.

The Messi and Friends Tour, which began on June 29 in Colombia, will conclude at Chicago's Soldier Field on July 6. Unless it doesn't.

UPDATE II: Messi has posted a message on his Facebook page expressing his disappointment with "the management" of the LA game.

"Disappointed by the management of the charity match in Los Angeles. I really wanted to be there and enjoy 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. A big hug to those who were going to support this cause at L.A. Memorial Coliseum and thank you all for your support."

Here's the absolutely ridiculous teaser video for the LA match, which has so much wrong with it that I can't even begin to list all of its faults...

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