Lionel Messi mania in MLS finally reaches breaking point with Vancouver statement and 'protests'

Lionel Messi is used to a rock star's reception at stadiums around the United States - but it appears that the love affair may run aground in Canada as fans are set to protest at his absence for Inter Miami's next game.

The Argentine hero has been taken to the hearts of the American public following his move stateside but it appears that there is less love to be found for him across the border. A record 50,000 spectators are expected to pack in to the Vancouver Whitecaps' BC Place as the Herons come to town on May 25.

However, it is understood that Miami superstars Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets have not made the seven-hour trip from Florida. Instead of travelling to Vancouver with their teammates, strike partners Messi and Suarez attended the opening ceremony of the Youth International Cup at Chase Stadium on May 24.

After receiving word that the trio would be absent, Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster even took to the club's official website to issue a statement on the matter. He wrote: "While we haven't received an official update on the availability of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Sergio Busquets for this weekend, we understand they will not make this trip.

"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," he continued. "We always want our best players going up against our opponent's best players, and facing players of the highest pedigree was especially exciting for our team.

Schuster added: "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. We have amazing fans, we have a good team, and Saturday's match is a very important home game for us."

For all the latest on news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to The Mirror US.

lionel messi mania in mls finally reaches breaking point with vancouver statement and 'protests'

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez instead appeared a the Youth International Cup Opening Ceremony match at Chase Stadium

With tensions seemingly high, disgruntled Whitecaps supporters are set to protest after the revelation that Messi will not be appearing at BC Place, according to a post by Breaking News British Columbia on Twitter/X. The publication described the Vancouver soccer community as 'devastated' that the World Cup winner will be absent.

Prospective attendees have been described by the outlet as 'up in arms' over the how the situation has plated out and they are allegedly 'demanding refunds'. A fan told the report: "I feel scammed, my dad got scammed, my sister got scammed, brother, uncles and cousins, we all got scammed. We won't forget this day."

Following news of Messi's upcoming no-show in Canada, the price of tickets to watch the game versus Miami has dropped from $249 to less than $100 on Ticketmaster. With tickets even being listed for as little as $48.80 for the clash, this represents a decrease of over 80 per cent.

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