Updated Oct 3, 2023 - Sports

Chicago Fire fans play waiting game with Messi's status uncertain

Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF watches from the stands last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The big question for Chicago soccer fans will be whether Messi will play Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. Photo: Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Inter Miami CF is playing the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, but it's still uncertain whether soccer's biggest star will be on the pitch.

Driving the news: Lionel Messi's appearance at Soldier Field is looking less likely after a leg injury, and neither he nor Inter Miami has said whether he'll play Wednesday night at 7:30pm. Messi has sat out four of the last five matches.

  • "He might be ready to play against Chicago, he might be on the bench, or if we think there's still a risk and he has to be left out, he will be left out," Inter Miami coach Tata Martino told the Miami Herald.

Why it matters: Soccer die-hards and casual fans alike have paid thousands of dollars apiece for the chance to see the GOAT, and prices are already falling on the secondary market with Messi's status in limbo, per the Miami Herald.

Still, the Fire expects Soldier Field will sell out Wednesday with more than 61,000 tickets already distributed and some still available, a spokesperson tells Axios.

Context: Since the Fire moved matches to Soldier Field from south suburban Bridgeview in 2020, the team has struggled to fill the 60,000-plus seat stadium, averaging about 17,000 attendees a match.

What's happening: Chicago fans are venting about the potential missed opportunity — and how the Fire should compensate them.

What they're saying: "While we don't know the official status of Messi's availability, there's no guarantee that a professional athlete will play on any given night due to several factors, but we're continuing to monitor the situation," the Fire said in a statement to Axios on Monday.

  • They added that it will be an exciting experience, regardless, including a "special performance from an award-winning artist at halftime."

The latest: The Fire on Tuesday announced new credits for single-game ticket buyers who attend the Inter Miami match.

  • The club is offering a $250 account credit toward new memberships for the 2024 season — or a $50 credit for a single ticket this season or next, a Fire spokesperson tells Axios.
  • The Fire will release more details later this week on how ticket holders can redeem the credits.

What's next: More waiting. It's common in sports to not release injury reports until the latest point possible as not to tip your hand to the opponent. And, of course, to get people into the stadium to spend money.

  • Last Saturday, Inter Miami announced that Messi wouldn't play about 45 minutes before the match, AP reports.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add details about new credit offerings for ticketholders.


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