Barcelona’s decision to leave the injured Lionel Messi at home for Tuesday’s friendly in Hamburg cost the club €360,000.
The game at the Imtech Arena, held to celebrate the German club’s 125th anniversary, was won 2-1 by Barcelona but the late withdrawal of Messi, who bruised a calf muscle in training on Monday, meant the Catalans had to forgo 30 per cent of the €1.2m agreed for them to participate in the fixture.
The Argentine star’s absence was a huge disappointment for Hamburg fans who, despite knowing La Blaugrana would be without many of their international players after their exertions at Euro 2012, had snapped up the 55,000 tickets available for the game within three days of them going on sale in the hope of seeing Messi.
A report in AS claims that Barca President Sandro Rosell even had to apologise in person at an official lunch with his Hamburg counterpart, while at a morning Press conference a local journalist asked boss Tito Vilanova to explain what had happened and why his players did not stop to sign autographs.
The frustrations of the home fans were summed up by one supporter outside the stadium.
“Very rarely do we get to see Messi in our stadium and we were very happy for him to be coming here,” Radolph Krauss was quoted as saying by AS.
“For us he is an idol having humiliated Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but the fact he has not come to our party has left us all deflated.”