Lionel Messi's disastrous tour of the US has suffered another blow after fans were left fuming by a supposed 'VIP experience' before his latest match for charity in Chicago.
Messi has already received some heat in America for cancelling a match in Los Angeles at the last minute which left one of the sponsors saying it was a "blatant attempt to defraud American citizens."
The latest 'Lionel Messi and Friends' match in Chicago struggled to capture the imagination of the public as the promoters struggled to fill out the teams – players from the local university were hauled in to make up the numbers – and the goal of the game was scored by a financial analyst.
That led to only about half of the stadium's 60,000 tickets being sold but some 80 supporters did at least think they were going to meet Messi after splashing out $2,500 (£1,700) on special VIP packages for the event.
The package promised: "Tickets with unprecedented field access following a meet and greet with the players, as well as a jersey and ball autographed by Messi"
However, Messi was not at the pre-match meet and greet and, after being substituted in the 68th minute, left the stadium before the final whistle to go on holiday in Ibiza.
Our friends at the Dirty Tackle blog over on Yahoo! Sports said that people who paid for the package "ended up feeling they were the victims of a 'classic bait and switch.'"
They add that the autographed ball and jersey turned out to be a cheap plastic ball while t-shirts had the Messi autographs either stamped on or smudged. The pre-match meet and greet consisted of only a few of the professional footballers in a hot, windowless room.
One father who paid $5,000 so that he and his son Hudson could meet Messi said: "Hudson had written a paper 'If there was anyone in the world he could meet' who would be? His paper was on Lionel Messi. Hudson and I are both huge football fans, both visited Barcelona, went to the FCB Stadium and were just giddy about the chance to meet the world's greatest player.
"Hudson and I waited for two hours in a private room under Soldier Field with 75 other 'lucky' fans....But waited and waited we did.... and at five minutes to 6:00 p.m. we were told he is not coming. They told us they would try to do it at half-time or at the end of game....but those both came and went... Messi left the field in the 68th minute and left the stadium.
"I looked to Hudson, put my arm around him and said I was very sorry. Hudson welled up and started to cry. He was devastated and I was devastated for him. No words could fix what he was feeling and what I was feeling for him.
"When we got to the car and started driving away he began to weep some more. All I could tell him is that sometimes our heroes let us down, that they are just regular people and whether they are great actors, singers, athletes - they are just people. Some are good people and some are bad."
Before the match Messi had said: "I don't have anything to do with the local promoters.
"At the end of the day I'm here to benefit the (Messi) Foundation and benefit Unicef."