Messi no-show sparks sponsor row

The Barcelona forward had been scheduled to feature in a star-studded friendly at the Coliseum but the encounter was called off just 26 hours before the planned kick-off
Lionel Messi has angered backers of a charity game in Los Angeles by pulling out of the event.

The Argentine and a host of other top international stars had been scheduled to take part in a friendly at the Coliseum on Wednesday but the match was called off some 26 hours beforehand, much to the fury of Todd Graham, CEO of El Padrino, one of the event's sponsors.

"After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi's management team to fulfill their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles, it is clear they have no respect for these fans and this market," he stated.

"We feel that this is a blatant attempt to defraud American citizens and businesses that sponsored this event."

The match was supposed to have been part of a series of charity games involving Messi, who led an all-star line-up to an 8-5 victory over a 'Rest of the World' XI in Lima, Peru on Tuesday evening.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Barcelona forward had been unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.