(Jakarta) Lionel Messi’s Indonesian fans were deeply disappointed on Friday after learning the Argentine star would not play a friendly in Jakarta, with some accusing organizers of false advertising.
The public rushed to buy more than 60,000 tickets for Monday’s encounter between Indonesia and World Cup winners Argentina, attracted by an advertising campaign for the event showcasing the star of the soccer.
But after days of uncertainty, Indonesian fans learned on Thursday that their hero would not travel to the Southeast Asian country.
“I feel sad and disappointed, I have mixed emotions,” 31-year-old shop owner Surya Wijaya Ang told AFP from the remote island of Banda Neira in the eastern province of Moluccas. .
“It was the main chance for me to see Messi play in person.”
On Thursday, the Argentina side beat Australia 2-0 in another friendly in the Chinese capital Beijing, and coach Lionel Scaloni confirmed that Messi will be absent from the Indonesian leg.
A huge Messi fan, Surya Wijaya Ang has amassed a collection of around 200 shirts emblazoned with his name. He plans to take a boat to the city of Ambon in eastern Indonesia and then a four-hour flight to Jakarta to watch the game.
The young Indonesian sold seven shirts from his collection to pay for the match ticket, costing 1.2 million rupiah (US$80), a high price in the country.
But he now feels aggrieved and remarks that the organizers seemed to promise an appearance by the superstar: “Messi is an icon and you can say 90% of the tickets were sold thanks to Messi. […] It was a marketing strategy for them. »
Other Indonesians expressed their disappointment on social media, with one offering to sell his two tickets “because Messi is not coming”.
A video posted to Twitter shows a fan singing a guitar ballad: “Why don’t you come to Indonesia? Why don’t you come, oh, Mr Messi? “.
Another writes, “This is the end of my worship…we won’t beg him to come.” »
Indonesian football went through a turbulent year with a deadly stadium stampede and the loss of the Under-20 World Cup, which the country was originally due to host.
Surya Wijaya Ang says he still wants to go to the Indonesian capital for the match: “Maybe I’ll see Lionel Scaloni,” he adds with a laugh.