Tatler Asia pursues legal action against Inter Miami CF over Messi’s no-show in Hong Kong exhibition match in February


16th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Tatler Asia has initiated legal proceedings against Inter Miami CF following Lionel Messi’s failure to participate in an exhibition match in February this year. The match, which was supposed to feature the Argentine superstar, ended in disappointment for fans and significant financial loss for the organiser.

The exhibition game, which saw tickets sold with the promise of Messi playing for at least 45 minutes, concluded without his appearance, purportedly due to an injury. This no-show triggered a storm of dissatisfaction among fans and a financial debacle for Tatler Asia, a conglomerate known for its luxury lifestyle magazines and e-commerce ventures.

Tatler Asia, after announcing a 50% refund to ticket holders five days post-event, disclosed that the unforeseen refunds amounted to approximately HK$56 million. This significant outlay turned a projected profit of HK$13 million into a staggering loss of HK$43 million. The financial statements revealed were part of the announcement made by Tatler Asia as they sought to transparently manage the fallout from the event.

The contractual agreement with Inter Miami CF had assured that Messi, along with teammates Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Luis Suárez, would play, barring injuries. The breach has not only affected Tatler’s bottom line but also tarnished what was intended to be a marquee event to boost Hong Kong’s reputation on the global stage.

Disappointment was further compounded when Messi and Suárez played in a subsequent match in Japan on 7th February, a fact that Tatler described as a “resounding slap” to their efforts and commitments. The organiser expressed deep regret, stating that the incident showed a lack of respect towards the fans who had anticipated this event eagerly.

The financial implications of the no-show extend beyond immediate refunds. Tatler Asia was poised to receive government grants and endorsements worth up to HK$16 million, which would have propelled their profits to HK$29 million, had the event gone as planned. These funds were contingent upon the successful execution of the event, which was undermined by Messi’s absence.

Legal experts suggest that the case could set a precedent for how contractual obligations are enforced in high-profile sports engagements, particularly in situations where player appearances are heavily marketed and central to the event’s success.

Tatler Asia’s lawsuit seeks compensation for the financial damages incurred and the impact on their reputation. The company stated that its primary motivation for hosting such a prestigious event was to create a landmark moment for Hong Kong, celebrating the city’s vibrant culture and global appeal through sport. Unfortunately, the incident has left both the organiser and fans disheartened, casting a shadow over what was meant to be a showcase event.