Tatler Asia, the organizer of the recent Inter Miami and Hong Kong XI matchup, has announced that fans will soon receive a partial refund. Ticket holders for the February 4th game became noticeably frustrated when Lionel Messi did not feature in the fixture. The superstar remained on the bench due to a minor injury.

After the match, Messi expressed regret for not being fit enough to play in the friendly. However, Hong Kong officials later demanded a better explanation for the notable absence after Messi played three days later. The World Cup winner entered a matchup against Vissel Kobe on February 7th as a late substitute in Miami’s win.

The Major League Soccer side also issued an apology to Hong Kong fans regarding the problem. Nevertheless, government officials wanted more to be done about the situation. Some fans paid up to $600 to gain access to the game and watch Messi play.

Tatler issued refund after meeting with Hong Kong officials

Hong Kong officials met with Tatler on Friday morning to discuss a resolution. The organizers agreed to a partial refund, but only to those fans who purchased tickets on official avenues. “We will not evade our responsibilities as an organizer, so Tatler Asia will provide a 50% refund to the public who purchased match day tickets through official channels,” Tatler proclaimed.

The local government expressed satisfaction with Tatler’s decision to offer partial refunds. “The government welcomes the relevant decision and believes that the compensation plan of the organizer Tatler Asia is a responsible approach and shows its positive and responsible attitude,” an official Hong Kong statement read.

“According to the relevant game accounts disclosed by the organizer… Tatler Asia has made its best efforts and [shown] sincerity [by arranging] a refund of 50 percent of the ticket price in response to the demands of all sectors of society.”

During the match, organizers also asked Miami team members to make Messi engage with the fans from the sidelines. The club, however, denied the request.

“When we learned that Messi would not be playing, we pleaded with Inter Miami CF ownership and management to urge him to stand up, engage with the spectators and explain why he couldn’t play,” Tatler said. “He didn’t.”

“The fact that Messi and (Luis) Suarez played in Japan on February 7th feels like another slap in the face.”

Partial refunds with Messi absence hurt Hong Kong Promoter

While Tatler’s move will appease fans and the Hong Kong government, the decision has significant financial ramifications. According to a new report, organizers of the game made a net profit of about $1.6 million after expenses. This included stadium rental, consulting fees, marketing, and other costs.

Nevertheless, the same report claims that issuing the partial refund will cost Tatler around $7.1 million. If correct, this means that organizers recorded a net loss of $5.5 million due to Messi’s absence in the friendly.

A contract between Tatler and Inter Miami stated that the Argentine superstar would play at least 45 minutes in the match. This deal was, however, nullified if Messi was carrying an injury. While he did manage to play 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe, Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino did not want to risk his best play potentially making the injury worse in Hong Kong.