Messi’s all-star game in Chicago will go on

Lionel Messi’s charity game at Soldier Field will go on, though

its star-studded lineup has lost some of its luster.

The ”Messi and Friends” charity game will be played Saturday

night, three days after the four-time Ballon D’Or winner was to

have played a similar all-star match in Los Angeles. That game was

canceled Tuesday night in a dispute with promoters. The Chicago

game is put on by a different organization, Miami-based Numero

5.

”We’re here to meet our part of the bargain. That’s why our

game was not canceled,” Ada Linares, the event’s project manager,

said, adding there was ”never” a thought of not playing Saturday

night’s game.

But the lineup won’t be nearly as impressive as what fans were

originally promised when tickets – some as high as $2,500 – went on

sale.

The match was supposed to feature 36 international stars,

including Messi’s Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas; Chelsea

defender David Luiz; Mexico’s Giovani dos Santos; and Robert

Lewandowski, who scored all four goals in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1

victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. But

most of the big names have dropped out, and four former

Northwestern players had to be added to the roster simply to be

able to stage the game.

Thierry Henry is still scheduled to play, and Brazil goalkeeper

Julio Cesar, Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano and France’s Florent

Malouda were late adds to the lineup.

”We’re definitely here not to disappoint anyone. We’ve tried to

bring the best in the world. Unfortunately, lineups are subject to

change,” Linares said. ”We have tried to meet the rosters, and

sometimes some of the players have personal agendas that they

decide they want to do. … If their team, at the end of the day

says, `You’ve got to come back,’ we have nothing that we can

do.”

About 25,000 tickets have been sold for the event, which is to

benefit the Leo Messi Foundation for sick and at-risk children in

his native Argentina.