Lionel Messi has been accused of 'defrauding' fans after a charity match in Los Angeles in which the Barcelona superstar was set to feature was cancelled just a day before it was scheduled to take place.
The Argentina international was set to play alongside a host of global names in the event at the Coliseum, but organisers were forced to pull the plug only 26 hours head of the planned kick-off time.
Todd Graham, CEO of El Padrino, one of the event's sponsors vented his frustration at Messi - who was recently issued with court summons on suspicion of tax fraud - claiming the Barcelona forward showed a flagrant disregard for American fans.
"After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi's management team to fulfil their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles, it is clear they have no respect for these fans and this market," he said in a statement.
"We feel that this is a blatant attempt to defraud American citizens and businesses that sponsored this event."
Messi, however, has responded to the allegations made by Graham, instead insisting the event organisers are to blame for the collapse of the eagerly-anticipated charity match.
"Disappointed by the management of the charity match in Los Angeles. I really wanted to be there and enjoy as I did in Peru and Colombia," Messi posted on his official Facebook page.
"This project is made for the fans, and that's why I'm very disappointed with the organization. A big hug to those who were going to support this cause at L.A. Memorial Coliseum and thank you all for your support."
Messi's most recent charity outing came in Peru on Tuesday, as a team captained by 26-year-old faced a side skippered by his new Barcelona teammate Neymar.
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