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'A lot of disappointed fans': Lionel Messi will not play against Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday

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When a record-breaking crowd fills BC Place on Saturday they won't be seeing superstar Lionel Messi play, according to a statement from the Vancouver Whitecaps.

More than 50,000 tickets have already been sold for the match against Inter Miami CF – which the Whitecaps say represents a club record for the MLS era.

Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster said he has been told that Messi, along with fellow former FC Barcelona stars Luis Suárez and Sergio Busquets, won’t be travelling to Vancouver.

"Unfortunately, we have no control over who plays for our opponent, and it was important for us to communicate to our fans as soon as possible,“ a Thursday statement from Shuchster said.

"We know that there will also be a lot of disappointed fans. We remain committed to making this a special experience for everyone. It is still going to be an incredible atmosphere and celebration of soccer for our city."

The team says kids under 18 will be given a free meal combo and that all concessions will be 50 per cent off. It was not clear from the statement if these promotions are linked to the news that Messi will not be in attendance.

The 36-year-old Messi joined Inter Miami last summer, six months after leading Argentina to its third World Cup title and first since 1986. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday 

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