No Lionel Messi, no party. For the Vancouver Whitecaps, the emotion of seeing the greatest player of all time will have to wait. In addition, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets will also not make the trip, according to Michelle Kaufman.

The news comes as a disappointment for Whitecaps fans, who are set to have a record crowd on hand at BC Place. More than 55,000 tickets have been sold. Even without Messi, the chance to see other big stars was on the table, but now the game has turned into a mundane MLS match.

The reason given for the trio’s absence was “rest.” An underlying reason could be that BC Place has artificial turf, and with Inter Miami racking up season-ending injuries, the club may not want to take that risk with a non-conference opponent.

Vancouver Whitecaps Statement Regarding Lionel Messi

In an unprecedented move associated with Lionel Messi, the Vancouver Whitecaps were forced to issue a statement regarding the absence of soccer’s biggest star.

With a crowd of 55,000 scheduled to attend, far above the average Whitecaps crowds of 16-17,000, many were there specifically to watch Messi.

Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC CEO, wrote in a statement, “While we haven’t received an official update on the availability of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, 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.”

Messi, Suarez, and Busquets

Messi, Suarez, and Busquets

“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. 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.”

As a result of the lack of star power, the Whitecaps are now providing all in-stadium food and beverages for the game at 50 percent off. In addition, youth 18 and under will be provided one free kids’ meal combo.

This will mark the sixth game Lionel Messi has missed of the MLS regular season in 2024.