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Frustrated soccer fans sue over Lionel Messi no-show at Vancouver Whitecaps game

A promotional image for the May 25, 2024 match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Inter Miami, provided in the proposed class-action lawsuit. A promotional image for the May 25, 2024 match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Inter Miami, provided in the proposed class-action lawsuit.

Soccer fans are seeking damages against the Vancouver Whitecaps after their dreams of seeing Argentine superstar Lionel Messi take on the team were dashed at the last minute in May.

A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week accuses the Whitecaps organization of pulling a "bait-and-switch" by using Messi – alongside famous teammates Luis Suárez and Sergio Busquets – in promotional materials for Vancouver's recent match-up against Inter Miami.

The advertisements appeared in various places, including billboards, social media platforms, print publications and the Ticketmaster website, according to the filing.

"Using such promotional materials as 'bait,' the defendants caused the tickets for the Vancouver v. Miami game to be listed and sold on the primary market at 10 times higher than the price of other Vancouver Whitecaps home games," the lawsuit reads.

The representative plaintiff, Burnaby resident Ho Chun, said he paid $404 including service charges to attend the May 25 game with his partner.

But two days before the match, Miami announced that none of the three star players featured in the advertisements would be attending.

Chun's proposed class-action lawsuit seeks a "partial refund, equivalent to the difference between the ticket price … and the average price of tickets for other Vancouver Whitecaps home games for the same seating via the primary market," plus additional damages.

"The defendants ought to know that these famous soccer players may not be playing at the Vancouver v. Miami Game or were otherwise reckless as to whether those players could or would play," the documents read.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC has not filed a response to the proposed class-action lawsuit, but told CTV News it notified fans "immediately" after learning Messi, Suárez and Busquets would not be at the May 25 game.

The club also noted that attendees have been promised a complimentary ticket to a future regular-season home game this year.

The way the MLS schedule is currently set up, the earliest Miami could visit Vancouver again during the regular season would be in 2026.

There was a wave of disappointment after news broke that the star players were not coming to BC Place, prompting a petition calling for the Whitecaps to provide refunds

On top of the complimentary ticket, the club offered discounted food and beverages for the match, which Miami managed to win 2-1.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday Top Stories

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