Backlash against Tatler Asia continues on Instagram as calls for boycott persist following Messi no-show

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15th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a recent attempt to shift the public’s attention away from the “Messi Mess”, Tatler Hong Kong featured Funa Nakayama, a prominent Japanese skateboarder, on its Instagram page. However, this move failed to quell the uproar, as netizens seized the opportunity to continue expressing their disdain and sarcasm. Comments such as, “Nice and safe first post after the fiasco. Your brand is still permanently ruined though. Well done!” highlight the ongoing resentment and the perception that the brand’s image is irreparably tarnished. Users were quick to point out the untimeliness and perceived insensitivity of the post, with remarks like, “Huh? Still posting? Let the dust settle and get the refunds done first,” showing a clear expectation for the company to prioritize remedying the recent event fallout over social media engagement. Another scathing comment, “Lionel Messi no-show ignites booing and calls for refunds at Inter Miami match in Hong Kong – organizer useless! Over 3,000 complaints against you lodged with the Consumer Council. Please just liquidate and leave the jurisdiction,” encapsulates the public’s frustration and the extent of the backlash, emphasising the gravity of the situation and the clear demand for Tatler Asia to take drastic measures to rectify the situation, up to the point of ceasing their operations in the region.

Amidst the escalating dissatisfaction, a growing number of voices within the community are calling for a boycott of Tatler Asia and its associated entities. This movement, gaining momentum on social media, is driven by a collective sense of betrayal and frustration among football fans and the general public alike, who feel that a mere half-refund for the Messi no-show is insufficient. The call to action for a boycott is not just a response to the Messi debacle, but also a stand against what is perceived as corporate indifference to consumers’ sentiments and interests. Advocates of the boycott argue that withdrawing support from Tatler Asia’s events, publications, and partnerships would send a clear message that consumers demand transparency, accountability, and respect. This sentiment is gaining traction, suggesting that the financial implications for Tatler Asia could extend well beyond the immediate refunds, potentially impacting the company’s long-term market position and reputation.

The match, which saw Inter Miami CF, led by Messi, squaring off against a local team in Hong Kong, was marred by controversy when Messi remained on the bench throughout the game. The incident, now infamously coined as the “Messi Mess,” has since sparked a social media furore, with netizens lambasting Tatler Hong Kong for its handling of the event.

Meanwhile, Pui Kwan-kay, President of the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA), has been vocal in his criticism, condemning the organiser and Messi for what he perceives as a disregard for the Hong Kong fans. In an interview, Pui disclosed that the exhibition match was initially scheduled to take place in Shanghai for US$3 million but was relocated to Hong Kong due to permit delays. The HKFA President rebuffed an offer to host the match for a staggering US$10 million, a sum he deemed exorbitant, drawing comparisons to the far more reasonable 2 million euros spent on hosting Real Madrid in 2003, a match that featured star players like Beckham to the satisfaction of local fans.

The match’s postponement and subsequent rescheduling to January in Hong Kong were facilitated by the government to allow citizens to witness Messi’s prowess before the Chinese New Year. Yet, the star’s failure to play left many feeling disrespected.

The controversy extends to the financial dealings of Tatler Asia. The company’s decision to refund only 50% of the ticket price following the debacle has been met with derision and scepticism. While Tatler Asia reported a total income of HK$156.9 million for the event, critics have raised eyebrows over the lavish VIP packages sold and the disparity in disclosed expenses, which included costs reportedly covered by sponsors.

Questions loom over the company’s financial transparency, with some suggesting that expenses might have been inflated. For instance, the true cost of event production, marketing, agency, and consultancy fees remain undisclosed, potentially masking overestimations or questionable financial practices. Fans and analysts alike are left to speculate as the private company’s accounts are not open for public verification.

Souce: Tatler Hong Kong/Instagram